Please don’t let this alarm you, but Thanksgiving, the big “kick-off” of the holiday season, is right. Around. The corner.
No worries, we’ll pause while you scream.
Take a breath.
There you go, that’s it.
Dysfunctional relationships, families, and all the shopping that begins immediately after that last bite of pumpkin pie can just about rob even the merriest person of all their “merry.”
So what can change?
Well, as the late great poet Maya Angelou once said, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
And that’s precisely what we can do—we can proactively change our attitudes and gain new perspectives about the things that may have the greatest potential to get our goats this holiday season.
Love may mean that we choose a new perspective.
A new perspective on dysfunctional
Writer and pastor Eugene Peterson writes this: “A word I’d like to eliminate from our vocabulary is ‘dysfunctional.’ It’s ugly. Bicycles are dysfunctional; people aren’t. Using that kind of vocabulary trains our imaginations to think of a person as a problem. People are not problems to be solved. They are mysteries to be explored.”
How could your holidays change this year if you looked at even your most difficult relationships as “mysteries to be explored?”
How would our evangelism change if we asked the Lord to help us love all the people in our lives this way?
And speaking of people: A new perspective on family
In her classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee wrote this: “You can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose your family, an’ they’re still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge ’em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don’t.”
There’s a lot of truth in that. But here’s another one: Our family is an awful lot bigger than biology.
Read this, by Shane Claiborne, founder of the Simple Way: “Biological family is too small of a vision…the reality of our rebirth should mess with us…Jesus’ vision extends beyond our rational love and the boundaries we have established” (Irresistible Revolution, ©2006). Claiborne, reflecting on a post-9/11 world, marvels at the idea that his family—indeed, our family—is bigger than blood or patriotism, and includes those in Iraq and Afghanistan. It includes the poor, starving and homeless, those dying of AIDS or fleeing across borders…the least of these.
Has the reality of your rebirth in Jesus messed with you?
If you’re not quite sure about “yo’ kin,” rejoice! Because of our adoption as sons and daughters into the family of God, our definition of family is so much bigger than we think it is!
Why not consider inviting others around your table this Thanksgiving or Christmas?
A new perspective on gifts
As is customary, the frenzy that is the holiday shopping season will begin almost before most of us are done eating Thanksgiving dinner.
But does it have to?
“The Gift of the Magi” is a short story written by O. Henry about a young married couple and how they deal with the challenge of buying secret Christmas gifts for each other with very little money. The plot and its “twist ending” are well-known—both husband and wife are left with gifts that neither one can use, but both also realize how far they are willing to go to show their love for each other, and how priceless their love really is.
The bottom line? Consider the greatest gifts. This holiday, why not show love with things that money just can’t buy? A listening ear, a helping hand, time spent, forgiveness, a patient heart, and a willingness to share the real reason for the season.