Variety of Packages Under the Christmas Tree

If your family is anything like mine, there is a reason for which wrapping paper is used for each person. Everyone gets their own and it usually coincides with that person’s personality. My mom gets poinsettias as she loves flowers, my dad gets Santa Claus paper as he loves to “help out the Big Guy,” and my nephew gets something to do with sports.

Those similarities and differences spill over to each family member also. Whenever my extended family gets together, we love to sit around talking about how my niece is just like me and my son shows traits of my sister, and how even my adopted nephew takes after his grandmother at times, despite no true biology (goes to show nurture is as important as nature). Our daughter and her cousin talk, look, and share the same expressions, despite living across the country from each other.

Sometimes the differences can seem huge and tensions can flare. So, how, especially around the holidays, do you make it all work? How do you keep harsh words from ruining not only family togetherness but possibly lifelong relationships?

My personal opinion is that if you can keep the real reason for getting together in the forefront of your mind, it helps. What is more important – a spotless house or a Dicecapades tournament (if you have never played this game, it is hilarious, especially with a large group of people)? Getting a chance to stay up late and getting a glimpse into your sister’s heart again or getting the allotted eight hours of sleep you usually need? Most little ones (there are always exceptions) can adapt to a different schedule temporarily also without too many meltdowns.

When family togetherness occurs this year, I issue you a challenge. Why not be the first one to make relationships the priority centered around an environment of fun? You might be surprised. If you take time to invest in your family, digging a little bit deeper into their personal lives, taking time to talk about more than just surface topics, you might be surprised that what you leave with this year is more than a store bought present. Instead, you might leave with a better understanding of why your brother, sister, aunt, grandmother reacts or acts a certain way. You might have a better understanding of why your brother has always hated spiders, you might learn what childhood was like for your parents and your kids might gain a better appreciation for why Grandma and Grandpa spoil them (or withhold treats and presents).

Taking time to really see each individual family member for the unique person they are, past or present experiences included, might be the best gift you receive all season. Who knows, you might find out the origin of that quirk of Uncle Bob’s and it could become the one that you respect him for the most. You will never know unless you dig a little deeper.

© Cheri Swalwell 2021

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