The holidays will soon be upon us. People are making their way to their attics to get the Christmas tree down. I plan to order a smoked turkey at my favorite meat market this week for Thanksgiving. I bought a plane ticket a few days ago for our firstborn to fly home. Jan asked me at dinner tonight to make a stop at a remote store out in the boondocks to pick up a Christmas gift for her dad. It sounds like such a happy time. It is a time of joy. Right?
If the truth be known, most families have some sort of internal struggle taking place. Someone in the family feels estranged. Harsh words have been expressed. Hateful text messages have been exchanged. Silence ensues. Family members, who were once close, stop communicating. When the holidays approach, such conflict feels intensified.
And then there are families who will face their first Thanksgiving or Christmas without a loved one present due to a death in the past year. I have been there. I know what that feels like. You go through the motions for the benefit of everyone else. But internally, it is not easy. I have friends who are facing that reality this year. My heart is with them. I won’t carve that smoked turkey without wondering what they are experiencing, and praying silently for them.
I have a word of advice for all of us this year. Choose to be the initiator. I don’t care who is right and who is wrong. I don’t care who “should” make the first effort. Make that call to the estranged family member. Send that text message. Extend an invitation to your home. Do your best to have a forgiving spirit, even when you have been hurt deeply.
The hard reality is this: you may not have tomorrow. Life is so unpredictable. Things can change so fast. And, if you choose not to initiate contact, you will live with that from this point forward.
Families with an estranged family member and those who are grieving a recent loss have one thing in common. Someone is missing from their table this year…. But those who are grieving would say to the families dealing with conflict: initiate. Make the call. Send the text message. Extend the invitation…