Did you have a nice Christmas? I hope so, and hope that you're looking forward to 2014.
Too many people, though, didn't enjoy the Christmas experience. Putting aside (hate to say it that way) those who lost loved ones, dealt with illness or financial burdens, or had otherwise overwhelming external events, there are a host of ways to ruin Christmas.
All of which can be boiled down to one reason.
Putting oneself first.
In all of the dinner-table arguments...someone just had to have the fun of goading another until the argument began. Someone just had to be right. And the stakes? Nothing. Over 99% of arguments don't matter. They're just rearranging the rubble of the past.
In all of the 'must be perfect' Christmas preparations, where tempers fray and feelings get hurt, are the family and guests the first concern of the partygiver-in-chief?
Not likely. The main concern of this individual is his or her ability to live up to expectations that are made up of commercial images of the 'perfect' Christmas, and bright shiny - and overglossed - memories of what childhood Christmases were like.
It's a moving target. You can't hit it. So the arrows hit bystanders, instead.
But heck, at least it was satisfying to hit something, right? On the theory that breaking a dish or putting a fist through a wall helps win an argument.
Finally, there's the Dreaded Gift Exchange. You don't know what to 'git' someone, and instead of focusing on the potential needs or desires of the recipient, you look to your own need - the need not to look bad, or cheap, or unimaginative. Instead of being a joy, it becomes a burden.
Is this what Jesus would want in celebration of His birth?
Finally, perhaps the very worst thing you can do is to give your .spouse the feeling that you'd rather be somewhere else...back home with your real family.
Usually, this doesn't come from malice. It comes from homesickness, gleefully fueled by advertising and stupid sentimental songs.
When you hear "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and say, sadly, "only in my dreams", you may be honest...and you're also opening a wound that will never fully heal.
If your spouse's family is also out-of-town, he or she may retaliate in kind, and you'll be living similar Christmas wishes, that of being apart.
But if you are your spouse's only family, and the home you share is their only home...what then?
If any of these happened, don't sweat it. You'll have another chance next year.