Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | December 22, 2019

Reduce Holiday Stress

I was a seven year-old kid living in San Antonio, Texas in 1963 — the year that Andy Williams recorded a brand new Christmas song entitled, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” And indeed it was a wonderful time in our home. My parents made sure that Christmas was a magical and memorable time for me and my siblings.

For many, however, Christmas is anything but a wonderful time. For them, Christmas has become the most stressful time of the year. Some of this can be blamed on matters outside of our control. But it’s likely that we orchestrate and generate more of our own stress than most of us would care to admit, especially in the current political climate in our country.

We are living in one of the most politically polarized seasons in American history. Regardless of your political leanings, anger over what is happening in our nation’s capital has saturated every fiber of our society, leaving ugly stains in friendships and families. The current political climate change is the result of intolerance belching into the atmosphere and the melting away of respect and civility.

Vitriolic rhetoric has become the new norm — speech fueled by an arrogance that demands that others “see the issues only as I see them” and an intolerance that says, “your views are not worth consideration.” Hatred and intolerance have given birth to willful blindness that refuses to see or acknowledge anything contrary to what we despise about others.


The danger is that in many homes, the joy of Christmas will be edged out by polarizing political rhetoric, especially at the holiday table. The Public Religion Research Institute conducted a survey a year ago that revealed 39 percent of Americans said some political diversity exists within their family. An ABC News survey found that the 2016 election made relationships and friendships tense for a similar percentage of Americans.

For these families and friendships, Christmas can be anything but wonderful. So, how can we guard the sacredness of the family table during the holidays and the irreplaceable treasure of family and friends?

First, look around the room or across the table. Regardless of whether you share the same political views, this is family. Keep in mind that when you get into a bind or find yourself in the hospital or whatever — these are the folks who will show up. Don’t expect any politician to rush to your aid or to cry at your funeral.

Second, in the words of that popular song from the animated movie, “Frozen” — Let It Go. Sometimes the wisest thing we can do is to just let it go lest family relationships become cold and frozen. Don’t allow your anger or frustration about what is happening in Washington to create distance between you and your family.

Third, there has always been scandals and conspiracies and crises in Washington. Politicians come and go. Political seasons always bring change. The guys you love will be replaced by guys you hate only to be later replaced by others — ad nauseam. And when the shoe is on the other foot you can generally count on our political leaders to act like heels.

Fourth, keep in mind that the folks in Washington have enough power without us giving them the power to control our joy or happiness. Don’t hitch your wagon to those horses. Sooner or later you won’t like where they take you. There is only one place where you will find stability — at the throne of God. There are no scandals in heaven. Trust that God is guiding history to accomplish His purposes.

Finally, agree to disagree. If the folks seated at your holiday table hold different political views then don’t allow this to cause you to think less of them or more of yourself. And don’t think that a conversation or argument at the table is actually going to change hearts or minds. It’s not that easy.

Fox News host Jesse Watters and his mom Anne have a great relationship. Jesse is the only conservative in a family of liberals. He is outnumbered at home. Anne often sends text messages to Jesse when he is on the air, taking him to task for his conservative views. However, when it comes to home, Jesse said this:

“I’ve learned that it’s not in either of our interests to have a cutthroat political debate at home during the weekends or during holidays. It just doesn’t get us anywhere.” Anne told The Atlantic magazine that she’s not upset that Jesse is on TV promoting beliefs she doesn’t share. “Jesse is enormously committed to his work and he loves what he does professionally and I deeply respect that,” she said.

Trying to win an argument or convince others of the wrongness of their position is not a formula for holiday cheer. We can learn a thing or two from Jesse and Anne. All things considered, they have not allowed their differences to create distance between them. They love and respect one another. And, ultimately, they understand that blood is thicker than politics.

Best wishes for a less stressful Christmas and a more hopeful New Year.


Responses

  1. So true my friend! Merry Christmas to you and your.


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