View from the Pew

                                                  View from the Pews                                                                                          

Dear Readers,

Well, here we are in December and Christmas is fast approaching; a time of families and goodwill towards men.

I was listening to the radio and someone had written in with a problem that they wanted the listeners’ advice on.  The problem was that all the family would get together for a meal over Christmas and there would be lots of people there brothers, sisters, spouses, children etc.  This has been a tradition for many years and all had gone smoothly until a couple of years ago when one of the sisters got married.  When her husband first attended the family gathering, he didn’t quite gel with the rest of the family. 

Everyone assumed that the sister would have a word with her husband, he was probably nervous and trying too hard etc. and everything would be back to normal the next Christmas.  Sadly this didn’t happen and her husband was just as obnoxious as the year before.  So the question to the listeners was, what to do?  Should they cancel the family celebration? Should the party go ahead without inviting the sister?  Should they have the main event without them and invite them over for the last hour or two?  Should the rest of the family just put up with this man, through gritted teeth?  Was there another option the writer hadn’t thought of?

I am sure we have all faced family dilemmas at Christmas; is there a way to keep everyone happy?  So I was interested to hear what the listeners’ responses would be.  I have to say that the replies were entirely mixed; there was no obvious solution that shone through.  Some said cancel and some said just put up with him, after all it is only for one day.  Others said go ahead without them, but I couldn’t understand how that last option would work.  Surely the missing sister would be a spectre at the feast and how can you enjoy yourself in those circumstances?

A couple of comments were more interesting and possibly more useful.  One person commented that they should accept the sister’s husband for who he is; the family now know what is coming so use it as a bonding experience for everyone else.

Another other solution offered was that now the husband is attending his third Christmas family celebration he is no longer a ‘new’ husband, so why do the rest of the family think that they have to tread on eggshells around him.  In effect the family should ‘man up’ and challenge him if he says something they disagree with, that way the husband will learn what is appropriate and what is not.  Now, as a retired teacher I have to say I like this lifelong learning solution, even though it’s not an easy way out for the speaker or the listener.

Obviously what actually happens with this family, this Christmas we shall never know, but I do hope the family did enjoy being together in some fashion or other. At advent we should try the key to our heart's door, it may have gathered rust and Christmas is the perfect time to oil it and open our hearts to all.

As ever,

Linda Caswell