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Conflict Resolution: The Grownups That Saved Christmas

In a culture rich with conflict, strife and contentious disagreement, Christmas celebrates peace on earth among the people God loves. But very often we don't have peace in our own families... let alone on earth.

Thank goodness we have instructions that give us a clear path to peace in our homes. Learn how to resolve conflict for Christmas. Your children have the right to a peaceful home for the holiday. Read on and learn about gaining shalom.

"Why is the carpet all wet, Todd?" "I don't know, Margot!" - The Griswold's next door neighbors in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

We are friends with a couple who, for whatever reason, own coordinating sweatshirts that have the above quotes on them. And, for whatever reason, we laugh when we see them. They wear them on our annual Christmas Caroling outing, and it is a running joke throughout the evening. Every year. It is clearly a signal of our age.

We love to laugh at the silly movie full of misadventure, slapstick, and humor that often comes a bit too close to truth. It is iconic. The comedic timing of these particular lines is spot on. I am laughing right now. I love the lessons learned from laughing at the Griswold family Christmas.

Christmas is a tricky time of year for many families. It is the time when our dreams of perfection are most heightened and the pressure is on to provide for our children the ideal gifts, the flawless Christmas morning, brilliant Elf On The Shelf antics, and all the trappings of a Hallmark Christmas movie.

We can never pull that kind of perfection together. No one can. It is ridiculous to believe that our homes will suddenly become scripted by writers and decorated by film set designers. And yet we continue to strive toward this.

Combine that pressure with longstanding family conflict and you have the recipe for bitter memories of Christmas filled with anger and frustration, hateful words, slammed doors and shouted threats of abandonment. Old family arguments very often resurface at the holiday.

It doesn't have to be this way. You can provide for yourself and your family a Christmas that is reasonable in expectation and free from conflict. You can give your child Christmas memories that are full of happy things. Peace on earth, goodwill to humanity.

God intends for us to live our day to day lives at peace with our neighbors, our families and ourselves. Thank goodness He didn't expect this without first giving us the tools needed to achieve this. He knows we can't do it alone.

We are all given the ability to avoid and defuse conflict. At this time of year it is even more important that we do this. When we do, we show our children that Christmas really is special. This is the time of year when we demonstrate a depth of love, forgiveness and generosity that travels far and wide. And then we extend this throughout the year.

When you to interrupt conflict in your home you are literally saving Christmas. And your family. You are living the truth of Christ in your heart. You are introducing in your home the concept of shalom. Shalom is the wholeness of God. It is that beautiful peace of heart and mind that comes when God has mended all the broken places and there are no missing or chipped pieces in your heart.

There are a few steps that you can take right now to disrupt any discord that is building. The scriptures contain a wealth of wisdom and actions that we can take to dismantle even generations of conflict and anger. Here are some tips to use today.

  1. "A gentle response defuses anger but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire" Proverbs 15:1

You can control how you respond to angry people. Even if it is your mother, spouse, in laws, whoever. When the temper fires around you get hotter, lower your own temperature. Respond by redirecting the conversation, ("did you see that funny commercial?") You can also suggest that the topic be changed. ("Let's talk about this after Christmas.") You can acknowledge the emotions without engaging the argument. ("I know that hurt you deeply. Do you mind slicing the tomatoes for the salad?") Use a gentle response. Every time.

2. ..."you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right... Then and only then, come back and work things out with God." Matthew 5:23-24

Make things right with your family. Apologize. Forgive. Move On. Show love with gestures of kindness and service. Bring them a cup of coffee fixed the way they like it. Clear their plate from the table without being asked. Let them talk about themselves. Be kind and open and soft. Set aside hard, sharp words and be generous with smiles. This takes incredible strength, I know. But I know you can do it. You have the strength of Christ within you and with Him you can do all things. (Phillipians 4:13)

If you really want to keep Christ in Christmas, resolve old conflicts. Be kind and gentle with your family. For the sake of your children (and for your own sake) create a conflict free holiday. Be the grownup that saves Christmas. As St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta said,

"If you want peace on earth, go home and love your family"

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