Holidays: that magical time of the year when all of your family dysfunction is supposed to magically disappear and be replaced with smiles, laughter, presents, and good cheer. Bah, humbug!
Just kidding. I’m not really a Scrooge. I enjoy eating huge meals and spoiling little ones with presents just as much as the next person.
What I don’t like is the constant reminder that I don’t have what all of the TV shows, movies, magazines, and media parade around during the holiday season. I mean, come on, I am already well aware of the relationships (or lack thereof) I have with my family. Being bombarded with images galore of fictional happily-ever-after families is hard to deal with.
Family functions during the holidays never fill me with feelings of peace, joy, and love. On the contrary, I usually spend the entire drive to Christmas dinner praying. Praying that I would hear God’s truths about who I am, who he is, and how my worth and value aren’t predicated on how others treat me. I have a strong desire to belong, and yet I feel so disconnected. I want to be loved, but feel like I’m unimportant and regarded as an afterthought. I want to be accepted, and yet I feel like my family members have no idea who I am. It’s quite the dichotomy. But feeling the Chinese cultural guilt and obligation, I go. I go hoping something will be different. I go dreading things will be the same.
Recently God has been trying to teach me that I cannot make people like, love, or accept me. That truth doesn’t jive well with my people-pleasing self. My desire to be included often leads me to do or attend something when I really should say no. So, this year, when I was invited to a family dinner on Christmas Eve, I politely said no, thank you. Instead, I organized a dinner with some of my friends and their children. It was a drama-free Christmas Eve. I stuffed myself silly, laughed like crazy, and felt seen, known, and loved. It was awesome!
Spending my holiday with who I wanted to instead of acting out of obligation or the unrealistic hope that things would magically be different with my family was a decision. It was my decision. I chose what I thought would be best for me. I think it was a healthy choice. I don’t know what my family thinks. They might’ve shaken their heads and said I was rude. It’s also possible they didn’t blink an eye. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. I will never be able to make my family treat me a certain way. The only person I can try to control is me.
What the media shows us during the holidays is not reality. It’s unfair to any of us to compare our lives and families to those fictional, idealistic images in movies, television shows, or advertisements. I have the family God gave me. He wants me to stop wishing for something different, to stop trying to fix or change my family. God wants me to see my worth and value through his eyes and stop looking to others for acceptance and love.
These are truths I need God to remind me of frequently. I think he is finally wearing me down, and I’m starting to make headway in this department. Saying no to the fictional holiday family fantasy and choosing to spend time with friends was a step. It may not have been a huge, life-altering step, but it was a start. As a result, I can honestly say I enjoyed my holidays this year. Ho! Ho! Ho!
Lorianne Lee’s whole identity was being a teacher (or so she thought). Now she’s trying to figure out who she is without being "Miss Lee." Lorianne enjoys being an auntie to her nieces, nephew, and friends’ kids who call her "Auntie Lorianne." She loves food but can’t afford to go out anymore. Some call her a prayer warrior, but she doesn’t feel worthy of that label. Lorianne wants to find her identity in Christ. She’s trying to be open to whatever God has for her, but she’ll tell you she’d much rather God just tell her what to do, whom to hang out with, and how to spend her time.