The holiday season gives rise to differing levels of emotions from one person to the next. Some cannot get enough. Others hunker down and pray for January’s relief. And there are a few who celebrate the birth of Christ without being shipwrecked by the siren call of the merchants. Christmas brings social gatherings with friends, family, and co-workers. People placed in a room together will generate some degree of friction, and this holiday seems to bring that friction to light in a pronounced way.
Have any of these folks attended your social events?
The Air Pause Specialist – APS dominates every conversation. Rather than yield the floor she filibusters with a drawn out “Ahhhhhh” while her brain prepares the next comment. She plows ahead with her speech impervious to the stifled yawns and glassy-eyed stares of boredom surrounding her.
The Family Historian – FH knows every first, second, and third cousin hanging on the branches of the family tree. He knows the intricate details of most familial happenings past and present. Sometimes FH will regale the audience with tales of relatives long passed as he adds his perspective to the historical events. Grab a pen and record this history for future generations.
The Yearly Replay – Replay holds five stories in his repertoire and repeats them often although the facts compound over time just like passbook savings. The fish grows larger, the bear has more teeth, and the temperature drops just a bit colder in each year’s episode.
The Slighted Sensitive Soul – SSS arrives with a dish of something made from Great-Great-Great Grandma’s secret recipe. Better try a taste and rave over the flavor. SSS is looking for a reason to be offended. She’s purchased the perfect gift for the newest toddler in the family. The gift, wrapped to perfection and adorned with a stunning bow and ribbon, could feature in a decorator’s blog. When that toddler opens the gift, though, and spends the next hours playing with the box, a devastated SSS will demonstrate the art of pouting.
The Princess – A large gathering implies much work on someone’s part. Polite guests ask the hostess, “How can I help?” Treasured guests simply jump in and start somewhere. But Princess is on vacation for the holidays and came to be pampered. “Wash a dish? Not with this manicure. Hold the baby while you prepare food for forty? That is not going to happen while I’m wearing my genuine Wookie-hair sweater. Be serious.”
The Crumb Dropper – CD couldn’t hit a plate with both hands and a shovel. He refuses the offer of a napkin, “I don’t use them. Bad for the environment.” His debris trail is quickly located by the dog who adores CD and takes up a watchful stance near his feet.
These comical characters are real, and they may be headed to our houses. Human quirks are a fact of life, and should we ask for feedback from an honest friend, we may learn that none of us escapes unscathed. At some point in some place with certain people each of us can be an annoyance with our peculiarities.
How do we handle these abrasions as we bump into loved ones during a season of closeness?
First, understand that Christmas is for everyone.
The angel who announced to shepherds that Messiah had arrived put it this way.
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11 NASB
All means all. Odd or not. Exactly like us or completely different from us.
Next, make allowances for each other’s faults.
I picture the Apostle Paul as a feisty man. His was a “take no prisoners” attitude, a necessity for staying focused on the goal of spreading the Gospel throughout the known world. Paul, a prolific writer, penned these words on human interactions.
bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Colossians 3:13 NASB
As the Lord forgave me? Yes, He did and does. And He accepts me, warts and all, with open arms. His is the example to follow.
And finally, tolerance motivated by love must be our practice.
Again the words of Paul are clear.
with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, Ephesians 4:2 NASB
Tolerance is defined as putting up with, forbearing, or enduring. Nothing is included in the term to describe the other person as conforming, changing, or adjusting. What has to shift is my response to that person, and love is the only motivator for tolerating others.
During this festive season can we determine to increase our fault tolerance just a bit? Can we grin and bear the friction? Our show of love to another might soften a heart, heal a wound, or erase sadness.