All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.
By Blaney Pridgen
Just like Lent is a season of preparation for the Easter celebration, so is Advent for Christmas. We are still in Advent, regardless of the garish and blatantly materialistic preparations which fired up even before Advent. We might yet pause for a somewhat spiritual preparation for Christmas. We might lay to heart Ten Commandments for family gatherings at Christmastide. They might save us a lot of grief and misery in the midst of our festivities…I. Thou shalt not attempt to discipline someone else’s obstreperous children; however, keep firm control of your own. II. Thou shalt not drink too much alcohol; however, patiently, and kindly endure those who do, unless it comes time to seize their keys.III. Thou shalt refrain from the usual family scapegoating, scandalous storytelling, and the sharing of pitiful memories. If you can’t say something nice and uplifting, then quietly reflect on “Silent Night,” all of the words. IV. Thou shalt not tell jokes of a scatological (poop), sexual, sexist, or racist nature. This might also be a good New Year’s resolution. V. Thou shalt not offer advice to your brother or your sister or your grown children, even if they ask for it, period. Even if they solicit your advice, tread carefully. They probably only want you to congratulate what they have already decided. It’s a trap.VI. Thou shalt lavishly appreciate the household decorations and the offered food with no reference to what you’ve done or what you might have eaten in celebrations past. VII. Thou shalt revel in any gift you receive, whether you need it, or like it, or already have it, or not. This especially applies to Gold Toe socks, fuzzy nightwear, and gift cards to establishments you do not frequent. VIII. Thou shalt silence your smartphone or best yet leave it in the car. Under no circumstances fool with it, unless it is a call from a dear relative who could not be there or unless you absolutely must take a few pictures. As to the latter, few is good. Gatherings are about relationships not photography.IX. Thou shalt offer to help clean up and mean it, even if the host demurs. They probably want and need your help anyhow. X. Thou shalt keep your political positions and religious convictions to yourself and politely suffer those who won’t. This is perhaps the most important commandment of all.
Family gatherings at Christmas or most any other times can be occasions for the creation of bad memories as well as good. For example, this is especially true at weddings and funerals, where the demons doth roam like hungry lions. For our contribution we can at least try to act, or not act as the case may be, as gentlemen and women of quiet strength, emotional nobility, and deep serenity. This is the best gift we can give our loved ones even when they are unlovely.