With Thanksgiving and Christmas coming, we need to brush up on a few important relationship builders!
1. Do everything in love (1 Cor 16.4). If you can’t do something with love, maybe you should consider leaving it off your busy schedule! If you go somewhere, put on — clothe yourself — with love (Col 3.14). Let Christ love people through you this holiday season! Bring Him to the gathering!
2. Do everything without murmuring, faultfinding and complaining (Phil 2.14). If you can’t, maybe it’s time to look at your schedule and take a few things off of it. YOU determine your schedule! YOU make the decisions about how to spend your holidays!
3. Simplify and focus. Make this holiday season a memorable one by focusing on others. I made it a habit early on to give my five children only three gifts, knowing they’d get way too much at Christmas anyways. We adopted a family to give to and focused on giving instead of getting. We visited senior residents, older relatives, and went Christmas caroling. When my children became teens, they weren’t expecting a huge pile of gifts because I never started that unrealistic expectation! Order part of the dinner from a good restaurant if you can’t cook it joyfully.
4. Give meaningful gifts. For a long time, I gave my family tickets to the Ice Capades in March — something that they could look forward to as a family together. Give a night out for a young couple that has children, or provide babysitting hours. Guard against materialism by giving gifts that enhance a life. Give a copy of my book, How to Build an Enduring Marriage, to a couple! Give an evening to your house for dinner to your parents (I’d LOVE that gift!).
5. Plan ahead. What do you want to bring to the party? Plan ahead what you can talk about with family members. Get a game like “Tabletopics” or “Family Talk” that have good conversation starters, and bring it to the party. Look up family conversation starters online and cut up questions and pass them out at the party! Learn something new about each person in your family! Give you children a paper for them to write down something new about each person at the party. Make your holidays meaningful by really being with the people there!
6. Guard your thoughts! If you think negatively, you will literally put a “rut” in your mind that your thoughts will be able to jump back into continually. If you don’t want to “feed” a bad attitude, stop adding fuel to the fire by ruminating and talking negatively about it. Proverbs 26.20 says without wood a fire ceases! Stop putting wood on the fire! What you FEED GROWS, what you STARVE DIES. The problem with negative thinking is that it makes a cognitive “rut” where your thoughts can continually and easily go. That is why Hebrews 12.15 describes when you have unforgiveness in your heart, that lack of grace for others will literally take root in your life and many people will be contaminated and defiled by it. Forgive others easily! Love your family with all their eccentricities, strengths and weaknesses!
7. Add something to the mix! Make sure that your presence adds something valuable to your family! Make sure that if you have to be missing, they are MISSING you and not relieved! Help out with the work load joyfully. Don’t have the idea you are there to be served. The greatest among us is the one who serves! The joy of serving will come back to you! Don’t expect others to carry too full a load because you wanted to sit out and be a spectator!
8. LOOK FOR the good and not the bad! I have found that you will find what you are looking for! There will be good things to focus on AND bad things. Choose to focus on the honorable, the just, pure, lovely and lovable, what is kind and winsome and gracious — if there is any virtue and excellence in you — take account of THESE things and fix your minds on them (Phil 4.8 AMP).
9. CHERISH your 2014 holidays. Protect and care for them lovingly. Hold them dear. You can never relive them except in your memories. My mom and dad always led us each holiday to sing: “One more time, one more time, He allowed us to be together one more time!” Our family has changed. We don’t have some of our key people that added so much to every celebration. But one thing we know: the memories we DO HAVE when they were with us, are AMAZING ones that we cherish.