How To Talk About Politics with Family

The holidays are always a wonderful time to enjoy family, lots of family. It’s all about spending time together, so much family time that by January 2 you promise yourself you won’t utter another word to another human being for the next six months. .

Let’s face it: the holidays are awesome and fun but also overwhelming and exhausting.

Add to the normal stressors the recent election and if you’re not careful your future promises to hold many explosive dinnertime conversations. Triple this prediction when you throw in booze.

People are passionate about politics and just because you’re related to someone doesn’t mean you see eye to eye on everything. In fact, there’s a good chance you have a few points on which you don’t agree. Call me crazy but I think this is true.

Here are some tips I’d like to share to make your holiday season a peaceful, pleasant and fun occasion. I call this, “Rachel’s Three Simple Rules to Making the Christmas Season a Fun-filled Time for All.”

Don’t talk about politics. Seriously. Don’t do it.

Really, I mean it. Don’t talk about politics.

I’m not lying. Don’t even think about talking about politics.

And that’s the advice I’ve got for you. Follow Rules 1, 2 and 3 and everything will go well for you and your loved ones this holiday season. I cannot stress enough the importance of following these rules. To stray from this in any way is madness.

I know it might seem like I’m joking but I’m absolutely serious. Now is not the time to talk about politics. For starters, the election is fresh on everyone’s mind. And if you think you understand where someone is coming from in who they voted for, think again. None of us can truly, totally understand where another person stands on every single issue. Someone else voting for the candidate you hated doesn’t necessarily signal anything.

So, okay. Here’s one way you are allowed to talk politics: you keep your mouth closed and just listen. That’s the smart way. Don’t go into any conversations with big plans to change minds and open hearts. That will end poorly, very poorly indeed. If you really truly want to “talk politics” then you can just sit back and try to figure out where your brother/cousin/mother-in-law is coming from and really listen to what they say.

OR you can compliment them on the good looking sweater and focus on the delicious meal in front of you.

This is not a cop-out. I repeat: this is not a cop-out. Keeping it real during the holiday season is not about getting all our junk out on the table. It’s not the time to acknowledge all the ways we don’t see eye-to-eye. Christmas is about the gift of family, of love and life and joy. Have a glass of wine! Toast all the goodness God has to offer.

This works, trust me.

Did you know that you can have vastly different political views with family members and still get along swimmingly? You might even realize that you have more in common with this person that you knew. The key is to focus on all that you share — your love for each other, your family ties, a history with people you love — and not let your differences get in the way.

At the end of the day (or days or week) what is worth working on is the relationship. What I have come to realize and believe is this: nothing, no ideology or political candidate or stance, is more important to me than a relationship. Which means I will choose to ignore everything but love when it comes to dealing with people.

There is always more in common than we think, especially when things are heated. Take a step back, say a little prayer, and ask Jesus for wisdom and patience and lots of love.

And pray the person on the other end can do the same.

This originally appeared in The Southern Cross.

Quick Thoughts

Another quick blog post because, why not? I’m sitting at my favorite neighborhood Mexican restaurant and getting work done. I have to leave the house to work because if I stay at home I will basically find anything to do other than sit and write. You’d think being a writer that I actually like writing. But I find ways to put anything ahead of it if I allow myself. I don’t really understand it. It’s like I want all the stars to align and everything in perfect order before I get down to it.

It’s weird.

So if I were home I would be dealing with the dishwasher and switching over laundry and then a quick spot cleaning of the windows and mirrors in the entire house. Then I would maybe sweep the steps real quick, wipe down a few handprints off every single wall in the house and by then it’s time to scrub a bathroom and switch over the laundry again.

When you put it like that, writing is way more fun but for some strange reason I get my priorities all messed up.

On the school front: we are coming up on two more weeks until Christmas break. It’s not too bad yet. It’s nice that kids don’t realize that two weeks is no time at all. I think when you are a teenager two and three weeks still seems like an eternity (it’s epic for small people). So it’s nice to think things won’t get super crazy until a few days before. But if memory serves me correctly (last year being my first full-time experience) it’s a little bit NUTS.

My brother Josh came and spoke to our high school students today. He did a great job. He’s an alumnus of this school as well (all eight of us went here) and something he shared really inspired me. What one thing can I do today to challenge myself? What can I do that has me pushing a little harder in one area than the day before?

I don’t usually think that way. It’s possible I actually already even do this, but I know I’ve never really thought in those terms. So now I’m thinking: what can I do today to try a little harder? Maybe really make an effort to have personal prayer (I come and go so quickly on that front!). Or perhaps pushing through in work and writing efforts, when I’d rather take a quick break (again!).

On that note: back to work! xo

Blogging Life

I just feel like writing. I’m sad I’m out of the habit. I’m working on a fairly big writing project right now and in addition to teaching and running a household and being a wife and mama, sharing my funny little thoughts has fallen off my radar.

Plus, do people even do blogs anymore?

Also, that’s not proper English. That’s okay.

But the beautiful thing about my blog is I get to say what I want and how I want and not worry about what people are thinking. And when I don’t write, it messes with my melon. I say the same thing every time I climb up onto my little writing stool and try to get the words out. But it’s okay. That’s okay, too.

It’s a form of plumbing.

Which reminds me, I need to call the plumber. Our main bathroom toilet isn’t working.

Here’s an awesome funny story I want to share:

Henry stayed home from school yesterday because he had a fever the day before. He was feeling much better, still has a hacking little cough, but we were able to spend a few hours running errands and getting him some clothes. He doesn’t fit any hand-me-downs from the brothers, mostly because he is my first child who wears the Husky version of the clothes on the market.

So we went to Wal-mart where Henry spied a pair of compression shorts that looked like those his older brothers wear. I sprung for them as a treat (and they ended up only costing $1.50 so SCORE!).

Last night Henry donned the new shorts and wore them to family prayers, which was immodest probably but there you go. So he’s walking into the front room and suddenly he notices that his new compression shorts have a pocket! One GIANT pocket directly in the front. That’s weird, he observed, but proceeded to put his hand in the pocket to make use of such a cool option.

“That’s not a pocket,” Elliott finally told Henry. “It’s for a cup.”

“Sweet!,” said Henry. “I’ll stick a cup in there and have a really giant straw and I can walk around with a drink in my pocket.”

Life is good.

Working with Our Wounds

Henry stepped on a brick the other day, doing that reckless thing all children do that all mothers say not to. He was out playing with friends, barefoot, and in the middle of a game his foot found a broken brick in a neighbor’s front yard.

Henry’s foot was dripping with blood, bad enough that my friend Susie had to drive him home from only a few houses away. It was a little scary and the cut looked terrible.

I cleaned out the wound and sure enough the bleeding stopped. Henry was fine soon after, but his foot was understandably sore.

But a few days later, the wound still looked dark and it was irritated. Henry had a hard time walking on that area, but every time I inspected the cut it seemed to be in the process of healing. I irrigated the area and cleaned it out as much as possible without digging and making things worse.

Henry spent that week hobbling around. He had swim practice, he played in a soccer game. Life went on and he seemed to be fine, but it still hurt when he put pressure on that part of his foot.

Finally one night he came out of my bathroom armed with tweezers. “I think I hear a scratching sound,” he said. Which seemed weird. Why would your foot make a scratching sound? But he couldn’t describe it any better than that.

A few minutes later, my son came to me holding two small pieces of brick. Can you believe it? He had been walking around all week with two bits of brick still in his foot! I was embarrassed and ashamed and excited and freaked out.

Of course Henry was cured — the shards of brick had been the culprit all along. He could suddenly walk without pain because the thing that caused so much hurt had been removed. Just like that, he was fine.

What an embarrassing story to tell — how could I not have known? But I didn’t, and instead of coming up with all the excuses of how this could have happened, I was mostly just happy that my son felt better. The dark “dried blood” in the cut wasn’t blood at all, it was a piece of brick that was now gone.

Henry was the walking wounded and now he was healed.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the wounds we carry. Being a human is tough work. We get hurt, we are wounded by unkind words and deeds. We carry these injuries with us and they become a part of who we are. We react out of hurt, sometimes we do things that make sense only in light of a wound known only to us.

And we deal with people who are this same way. How can any of us know the depth of another’s struggle? Can we ever truly understand what affects those people around us?

“Be kind,” goes the saying, “for everyone is fighting a great battle.”

But on top of all of this, of the reality of hurts and wounds and the sadness of life, is the truth that our God saves us and he heals us. For each one of us walking around with a shard that stays where we have been hurt, God is there to remove that for us.

God can offer us true freedom, to bring us back from the injuries that we all suffer. We spend time in prayer, we find solace in God’s love by quietly soaking up the healing graces he has to offer.

God wants us healed and whole — not because he can love us better, but because he wants that freedom for each one of us. He doesn’t want us to suffer through life.

And out of that suffering, from the healing God offers, we can learn to love those around us. In the midst of our healing, we begin to offer in some small way the love of God that the hurting world so desperately needs to feel.