“My obnoxious uncle is coming for Christmas Supper…”
“I can’t believe they would even bother inviting Stephen — he’s an atheist. He will only have complaints and bicker about the church service.”
“Apparently my niece is bringing her … ahem … girlfriend for our holiday gathering.”
How readily will we let slip streams of rumors, complaints, and negativity this holiday.
All year, we gripe about the doldrums — wake, work, home, clean, dinner, TV, bed.
We pine for something different — a vacation, shopping, parties.
And yet, as soon as the doldrums are crushed and our routine is “interrupted” by family, travels, and the holiday zaniness, we have nothing but exhausted complaints — especially about our family.
One day, that obnoxious uncle will be dead and buried. You’ll have a lot of memories about him, but you’ll never get to talk to him again.
One day, your brother Stephen, the atheist, will be dead.
And your niece, too.
And maybe you’ll be dead before any of them.
The holidays are not an invitation to complain or hide away.
They ought to be shared, even with those you view as unbearable.
Because here’s the thing:
One day, all those people you “begrudgingly” love and “supposedly” dread seeing will get sick, wither and die. Just like you may.
And one day, you will almost certainly look back and remember the times, and you might wish you wouldn’t’ve been so bitter or cold. (Or they wouldn’t’ve been so bitter and cold to you! But you cannot control them!)
For many of us, the holidays are long and exhausting. I understand.
But they are a short window into a life away from our lives!
We must try to remember just how short everything is.
Soon the winter will die away, the days become longer, and it is summer.
And before you know it, it’s Christmas again…
…And before you know it, again, it will be 10 Christmases from now, your hair will be greying, some family will have passed, and maybe some new family born.
The holidays are an opportunity for gratitude and perspective.
This is the greatest gift — the time together with all those wacky, offensive, annoying, Conservative, Liberal, conspiratorial, embarrassing, cringe, and all-at-the-same-time wonderful people you share your life with.
So do just that! Share.
Follow for daily philosophical meditations.
These are distillations from my coming book “YouDaimonia: the Ancient Philosophy of Human Flourishing.”
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