Hi friends! Can you believe Christmas is less than a week away??
I’ve written recently about readying your home for Christmas, what you may want to whip up in your kitchen this year, Christmas cards, and why you should write a holiday letter…but there is a relational aspect to this season that I didn’t want to overlook.
(Let me interrupt myself here for a second to emphasize that the TRUE, main meaning of this season does not actually have to do with food or snow or movies or even family or a general vague feeling of love in the air; I believe that the true reason we should be celebrating Christmas is because God our Creator gave us the ultimate Gift in His Son, Jesus Christ! In all of the hustle and bustle this year, and even though I wrote posts about a variety of holiday-related topics, I didn’t want to leave out the real reason I celebrate Christmas.)
Today I wanted to talk about interactions with loved ones, our conversations, and how we can approach them best.
I don’t really need to lay out all of the background knowledge here for today’s post: we all know the holidays are a time filled with family and fun and LOTS of conversations, and we also know that the holidays can be filled with difficult, awkward, or even tense moments.
It’s been on my heart to write about this topic because it affects so many people. No matter what life stage you find yourself currently in, and whether you’re the one celebrating successes or suffering disappointments this holiday season, this post is applicable to you!
There is no perfect manual out there on interacting with family and friends. It’s just the nature of human interactions – we’re bound to have misunderstandings or other little mishaps sometimes…and sometimes, the offenses can be great.
More than likely, though, whatever conversations you have with loved ones will be light and positive. However, there are some things I think we all need to keep in mind when conversing with people, especially in a holiday season when many of the conversations center around life updates!!
Ah, holidays: the time when everyone suddenly wants to know exactly what you’ve been up to, and why, and how, and when… 🙂
Be respectful as you ask for life updates. If you ask more of an open-ended question, then that allows your loved one to elaborate as they feel comfortable.
I recommend you try to avoid cornering people into answering very specific questions.
What I mean is this: Try How’s life now days? Tell me about the school year! What’s new with you? as opposed to Are you and the boyfriend still together? What are you going to do with your major? When are you getting married? When are you getting engaged? Why hasn’t he proposed yet? When are you guys gonna have kids? Why don’t you have kids yet?
Here’s the thing: even if you’re quite close with someone, or even if you’ve been following along with them on Facebook all year, you may not know their whole story.
So, when you ask, Are you and the boyfriend still together? what you may not realize is they recently broke up and even trying to talk about it makes their words freeze and their heart ache.
When you ask, Why hasn’t he proposed yet? what you may not know is that he is working tirelessly to save up for a ring for her, and mentioning it over and over just worries her and makes him feel defensive or embarrassed.
When you ask, When are you guys gonna have kids? Why don’t you have kids yet? what you may not realize is that they are aching and grieving through this holiday season after going through a recent miscarriage. The holidays can be full of grief for someone who recently lost a baby. Or maybe they recently received discouraging news from their doctor.
When you ask, What are you going to do with your major? perhaps they are wondering the same thing, and the very thought paralyzes them with fear. Or maybe they had had a job interview and things fell through, so they’re trying to sort out what to do next.
So BE THOUGHTFUL as you spot that person, walk across the room, and launch into a conversation. Well-meaning or not, sometimes we accidentally bring up topics that make people’s hearts ache. And that’s not what should be happening when you’re spending quality time together!
Pray for God to give you insight into how you can best interact with them. And then proceed from there, striving to be uplifting and positive as you talk with them.
Despite all best efforts, yes, there can be those who will end up taking offense at something you say. And you know what? Continue to extend grace to them. As long as you have approached conversation with them thoughtfully and lovingly, you know you have done your best and you can move on!
Keep the love. I also wanted to mention that many, many people who are asking the very specific, potentially prying questions are people who truly care about you. If you’re on the receiving end of this kind of conversation, try not to take major offense to whatever they’re saying. Something my mom once taught me was to keep the love: if I wasn’t thrilled with a particular gift as a kid or unhappy with the way someone worded something, I could still keep the love. You don’t have to be obsessed with the gift someone gives you, or even thrilled with the way someone broached a topic with you, but you can feel their love in it, and know their heart behind it. So, when you can, despite someone’s phrasing or approach, keep the love.
I’m aware these thoughts and tips aren’t a one-size-fits-all kind of thing…my only hope with this post is to give you a bit more insight into how you can converse with and love people in a thoughtful way!
Do you struggle with people asking you about certain life updates? How do you reply?
And do you have any tips for thoughtfully approaching conversations with your loved ones?