One of my loyal readers wrote to me earlier today after I asked for suggestions of what to blog about this week. Her reply: “Can you write about why it’s important to be nice to those around you during the holidays? Some people are forgetting that it’s a time for kindness.” Without getting into too much detail about her immediate situation, I decided to tackle this topic.
While I’m certainly not Ann Landers, let’s see where I go with this…
In my mind, the holidays begin with the arrival of Halloween, because very quickly afterward, we move into the Thanksgiving season and then we move swiftly into the December holidays. Already the stores are decorated for Christmas. There is an abundance of holiday circulars in the newspapers; ads on television are already reflecting the ‘season of giving;’ and radio commercials and malls are playing holiday ads and songs. Michael Buble and Bing Crosby will sell a lot of their Christmas records.
And yet, sometimes we forget what it’s all about, don’t we? Even when we hear the messages of all the Christmas and holiday music, we can forget. And while I won’t dwell on the religious aspects of it, I will tackle why we should simply be nice.
In the rat race of getting lists, decorating our house, shopping for gifts, baking cookies, making wreaths, hosting and attending holiday parties, and continuing to be gainfully employed during it all, we can lose our focus on what is most important. Is it more important to put aside designing a pinecone snowflake wreath and instead opt to spend time with Aunt Ginny because she only visits once a year? Probably so. What we don’t want to happen is that we get so bogged down in how it should be that we forget to just be.
In the throes of all the hullabaloo, we should remember to be kind to one another. I know I’m guilty sometimes of complaining that things are not going my way or as planned. As a wee bit of a control freak (and a believer in doing the right thing—especially where family and friends—and I am mean true friends—are concerned), I can sometimes get myself upset that the schedule gets confused or someone doesn’t show up when they are supposed to. These are little things, people. These little things don’t matter. What matters is that they showed up, late or not.
Being nice can come in handy. Even I have rubbed up against the not-so-nice ones, and I have at times, not been so nice myself. It makes you feel bad. However, if we believe we have done what we could to salvage something or to accommodate someone and they continue to not appreciate us, take us for granted, or leave us out of events, then it’s time to walk away. Walk away with our heads high because we gave it a try. We tried to fix things, accommodate someone, or work through the shenanigans. We stayed true to being nice. But we all have a breaking point.
At the holidays, the worst thing is to be miserable through them. It is a time for joy and love and understanding. We should try to work things out with those we care about, and not worry about the folks who bring angst to the table or choose to be disconnected from our lives. They are not worth it. Try to talk things through, even though sometimes it may be a difficult conversation. For example, earlier this year, I attempted to solve a conflict with a friend, and it did not have a positive outcome. We win some, we lose some, we learn some.
Moreover, I think people forget how short our time is on this planet. My husband lost a friend last week to Lou Gehrig’s disease. On campus, one of our students passed away after suffering injuries from a horrible car accident. Think of how many holidays we actually get to spend on this dear planet. Make the most of it. Try to be charitable and kind to those who deserve it. Be accommodating. We should love and cherish our time with family and friends and not allow it to dampen a time that should be joyful.
Finally. The moral of the post?
Focus on the positive people: the people who love us and understand us and support us. It’s the holidays, for crying out loud. Those who are trying to churn up trouble might need to be addressed privately and in a non-threatening way to avoid a defensive response. As my colleague and friend, Leeanne, has taught me, we can deal with conflict in the nicest of ways. And, if and when we’ve given it our best shot, the choice is ours to walk away. But be prepared: The outcome could be a positive one or a negative one. Nevertheless, either way, we’ll have an answer, and hopefully one we’re prepared to live with. Those with the issues can choose to be nice and accommodating, or we can make the choice to leave it behind. We can choose to spend our holidays in the way that will make us the happiest.
It’s really that simple.