By Francis Ewherido
This year has almost flown by. So soon Christmas is here again. Christmas has always meant different things to different people and will continue to be so. But two perceptions of the true meaning of Christmas form the basis of today’s column. The first is “Christmas time is family time”, while the second is “Christmas season is a time for healing and reconciliation.”
If Christmas time is family time, how are family members, who do not see eye to eye, going to have family get—together? Siblings who grew up together lovingly are tearing one another apart. The issues are diverse, but a few are: gulf in accomplishments as the years roll by, entrance of spouses into their lives, envy, seeds of discord sown by the parents and pride.
First, I firmly believe that God created every person for a purpose. Finding and living your purpose naturally comes with accomplishments. The first challenge people have is finding their purpose which is located somewhere in their talents, other natural endowments and interests. The other challenge is our value orientation. In this part of the world, any accomplishment that cannot be measured or denominated in naira and kobo is not treasured. Our value orientation has taken a tumble and consumed our psyche. People now abandon their purpose to do just anything that will give them quick money. Are they getting fulfillment? Maybe, maybe not. Many a time such dissatisfied and disoriented minds visit their frustration on all around them including family members. Many of them cannot cope with their siblings’ accomplishments and become envious. This is one of the sources of discord in families.
On the other hand,
accomplished members of the family should realize that one tree cannot make a forest; they should therefore be humble and magnanimous in success. They should be patient with, and support, less accomplished siblings and other family members. Whether we like it not, there is strength in numbers and family bond. Life is not always about money, accomplishments and positions.
The Bible says he who finds a wife (spouse) finds a good thing. True, but the entrance of spouses into families (in Africa your spouse is primarily yours and secondarily a member of the larger family) has created rifts in usually united families. This is so because these spouses grew up in different environments under different circumstances and they bring in alien traits and ideas while some deliberately drive a wedge between their spouses and their spouses’ siblings. I often tell people that your spouse is like an attack dog; only that in this case it should attack only the owner. Do not let him/her bite other family members. Also, if you are marrying into a family, you should add value. If you cannot, at least help maintain the status quo; it is evil to destroy existing values and bonds.
In some cases the seeds of discord were sown by parents, who are either now aged or dead, through their action or inaction? Must you continue to eat the fruits from the tree of discord and put your teeth on edge? It is time you let go and moved on?
I have written so much about conflicts among spouses, I will not dwell on it here. Spouses should go and heal their families, it is family time.
Whatever the issues are, Christmas time is family time and a time for healing and reconciliation, so let us get rolling. You do not have to be the guilty party or older person to initiate reconciliation. Just do it in the spirit of the season. Who knows? This might just be the only opportunity for you to do so. Many people do not like to be reminded that we are mortals, but that is what we all are, and there is no particular order in which we shall all take a bow and exit the stage called earth. What will it be like to stare at death and remember your estranged family member with no time for reconciliation? Or to behold the body of a family member you bear a grudge against with reconciliation now impossible? That should be very agonizing, unless you have a heart cast from stone.
Sometimes a family member embraces new tendencies which are contrary to family values and beliefs? This is also agonizing to many families, but what about loving our own and hating the act? Surely throwing the baby away with the bath water does not seem right either. A friend described some family members as snakes? Snakes, venomous or non venomous, are dangerous. That is why they can scarcely be domesticated. There is too much of nature in them and very little of nurture. So if your family member is a snake, treat as you would a snake: handle with care, but remember he/she is still family. I concede some family members are dangerous. Their stories and actions leave you speechless and temporarily paralysed. But hey, that is why we have One up there called the Omnipotent. May God protect us from such family members!
Beyond family time, healing and reconciliation, Christmas is a time for sharing, moving around and relaxing because it is a holiday. It is also a time for merry making; that is why we say merry Christmas. Just do your eating and drinking in moderation. Do not pile on the weight you have lost over the last year in one week. It is unbelievable how difficult it is to shed weight and how easy it is to gain it as you grow older. Your metabolism simply changes to “go slow” mood. So older guys, leave the heavy eating of this season for the youngsters and unbridled drinking for fools. One more thing, in all these, we should spare some thoughts for the eternal. Happy Christmas and a purpose-driven New Year in advance.