The holidays are meant to be spent with family and the ones you love most. Throughout the months of November and December, family members travel from near and far just to spend a few days with their loved ones during this magical time. Although the holidays are made out to be full of joy and happiness, this is unfortunately not a reality for every single family.
In every family, both functional and dysfunctional, issues arise, and there’s no doubt about it. The intensity of these issues can vary, however, sometimes they may translate into years of fighting and separation. Although we should be kind to others in every instance, the holidays can be a sensitive time for many. Everyone is different and the circumstances are unpredictable, therefore, it’s almost ignorant to assume that every person fits within the picture of a having a big happy family.
The months nearing the end of a calendar year are a time as good as any to be thankful for what we have. However, whatever you are missing is on the other side of the fence. I recently read a quote said by Joseph F. Newton, a minister. The quote read: “People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges.”
Oftentimes throughout our lives, different sorts of personalities seem to knock heads and this translates into disagreements. Many of these instances can remain as small conflicts, but even something as small as a dispute can snowball into a raging, flaming argument that can result in bridges burning.
When I return home from college after a long semester of classes, I will be overwhelmed with happiness to see both of my parents and my sister. I am so thankful to be able to spend the holidays with them. However, these holidays have changed as I’ve gotten older. Each year the latter months roll around, and another year goes by without seeing some of the members of my extended family because the bridge between us is still burning.
My family hasn’t been “normal” for a long time, but this year I want to make a difference. The issues we have are undeniably complex, and not being treated as adult makes for a pretty confusing role in these discussions. The way I see it, we may have our issues and disagreements, but that doesn’t make us any “less” family. We may upset one another sometimes, but these small arguments have the potential to create divisions among families, something that I can no longer witness.
In the most genuine and kind-hearted manner, this year I want to extend an “olive branch.”
The olive branch, as I learned about in my high school U.S. History class many years ago, is a representation of peace. As much as my parents hate to admit it, we all realistically have the maturity to work through issues with those in our distant family. I mean “distant” both figuratively and literally, for it’s common that many families live far from one another. Because this is commonly the case, seeing each other is memorable, and should be viewed as nothing other than enjoyable.
There’s something special about being a family that is indescribable. You have these non-negotiable ties that even if you legally dissolve, will still always be in the foreground. Being “bound” in some form to a group of people makes for strong bonds and a friendship like no other. I can still see the remnants of the past, and these moments will never leave my mind. Families are the epitome of love and closeness, two things I’m not ready to forget about quite yet.
All it takes is a little kindness, similar to many situations we often experience in our lives.
I wish we could spend the holidays together, and this year I want to try to rebuild the bridges that for years have been burning right before my eyes. Although disagreement has the power to tear families apart, I urge everyone to take a step back and recognize the value of even having a family, and try to reconstruct these bridges while there’s still time.
I say this with a heavy heart, the holidays are better when spent with those you love. In the most genuine way possible, extend that Olive Branch this year. Be vulnerable and willing to compromise, for so much good can come out of this not only for yourself, but for every member of your family.
How have compromises made your family stronger? Tell us!
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