We recognize that the 2020 holiday season will probably look different than the holiday seasons of years past. Perhaps you’re worried that navigating decisions about where to meet and how to best keep everyone safe will only add to the family drama. We hope the tips in this post help you feel better equipped to handle the holidays this year.
The holidays are fast approaching, and ’tis the season for decking the halls and hunkering down with loved ones. It can be the most wonderful time of the year, but we recognize this season can intensify the brokenness in a dysfunctional family. But even the best of families are complicated, because people are complicated! In the interest of peace on earth, below are some ideas to help you let go of baggage and travel light for the holidays.
It can be hard to surrender our burdens, especially when dysfunction feels exactly like fresh salt to old wounds. Before polite niceties devolve into barbed blows over eggnog and cookies, we can anchor ourselves in the knowledge that it is for freedom that we’ve been set free. Not only do we not need to dread the holidays, we can actually live life to the full, every day, living in the freedom that God offers.
So get in front of the family drama this year. The Bible tells us: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us … Hebrews 12:1 NIV You ready to lighten your load and find joy again this year?
Here are ways you can let go of what’s not yours—and take responsibility for what is—within your dysfunctional family this year.
- Forgive. Leave the past battles in the past. Let go of that thing your mother-in-law said three years ago.
- Don’t take things personally. We get it. Families by nature are personal. But sometimes your brother gives tacky gifts because he doesn’t know any better (not because he’s trying to offend you). Try giving people the benefit of the doubt.
- Let petty remarks slide. We’re not saying your great aunt is innocent. We’re just suggesting that you choose your battles. Ignore her acid tongue and come out ahead on the high road.
- Stay humble. Your uncle is ever the black sheep of the family. It’s easy to judge and feel superior when someone across the table sets the bar so low. Wear compassion on your sleeve and focus on the good qualities, however few and far between they might be!
- Set appropriate boundaries. You don’t have to say yes to everything. Traveling light might mean avoiding truly toxic situations. Navigate with care.
- Manage your expectations. Most of us wear several hats within our families, but what if our main priority were to love and serve our family members? Jesus made Himself a servant in the way He led His followers. Follow His example by being a light within your family.
One last tip to help equip you in the face of tense situations is to stay grounded in God’s Word. When we read the Bible, it allows God to supernaturally refuel us. Find a free Bible Plan that meets your spiritual needs, or start a Christmas Advent Bible Plan to help your heart focus on the beauty of being in God’s family in this season. Read it with a friend—maybe even your family!
Hoping all is calm and all is bright for you and yours this year.