The holidays don’t always elicit harmony among family members.
For some, coming together heightens deep-rooted and unresolved offenses. In most cases, drama isn’t formally invited but somehow slips in unannounced. Personally, I appreciate hearing how other people navigate through uncomfortable family interactions. They’ve helped me to circumvent a few of my own.
This scenario happened to my girlfriend and hearing it stuck with me for a while. She was in a relationship with a man who lived with his mother, whom had ongoing health difficulties. She said, during the course of their relationship, his mom was moody, but hadn’t overtly offended her until this one afternoon.
Allow me to place you in the scenario.
Due to her health issues, this mother has diet restrictions that often lead her to have strong cravings. This particular day she longs for tacos, so you volunteer to make them.
Upon opening her frig, you realize the ingredients for tacos must be sitting on the shelf at the local grocer because they aren’t inside. Therefore, you go and return.
With fresh produce in hand, you now embark upon dicing tomatoes, shredding lettuce and scrambling ground beef. You feel a sense of accomplishment when you pull the golden, crisp, taco shells from the oven. Layering the ingredients proportionately inside, you trot your display of tacos, eating utensils and preferred beverage to her room with delight.
You feel good about fulfilling someone else’s desire. Despite the time, energy and monetary loss, you’re glad you could help. The only thing you need is a satisfied reaction from the individual you’ve gone out of your way to accommodate.
But, you get…”I’m not eating that.” In disbelief no less, you place the tray before her anyway. She pushes it away and restates, “I’m not eating it. It doesn’t have sour cream.” You quickly discover she isn’t joking. You weren’t aware of sour cream being a prerequisite prior to preparing this meal. But, for her, no sour cream on tacos is like Oreos without milk -- a deal breaker. Therefore, she doesn’t eat the tacos and she doesn’t apologize for her position.
My girlfriend of whom this incident occurred handled herself with class and extended grace. She said, “It was rude, and I was upset but I let it go.”
I wondered, “Would I have?” I don’t know.
What I know is this, offense is meant to hurt our feelings, cause resentment, irritation, anger, or displeasure.
Surrendering to offense allows the emotion to steal our joy.
Being offended is a choice. We can choose to let an event replay, ponder our responses through trivial gossip and plan retaliations, or we can choose to let it go. Keeping yourself conscious of surrendering offense takes practice. It’s impossible for offenses not to come to us but let’s make sure these offenses aren’t coming from us.
I pray your Thanksgiving will leave you full with turkey and its trimmings, fellowship with family and family. And of course, football! Let’s leave the drama outside in the cold. But, if it happens to slip in anyway, choose to shake it off.
Claudia Parker is an Evergreen Park mother, author, runner whose columns appear the second and fourth Thursdays for the Reporter.