Not being able to see people for our usual festivities feels as if it is going to be difficult. We’ve had some ten-minute Christmas delivery doorstep chats in the last couple of days with some family and friends. Limited, of course, by not being able to invite them in for a cuppa and a proper chat! But better than nothing! Berkshire goes into Tier 3 Very High Alert from tonight – so no more garden get-togethers round our newly gifted fire-pit...not just yet anyway. Since our nearby grandchildren have finished school with a week to check out any infectiousness, we may get to see them briefly but we will reluctantly follow the advice and settle for a ‘little Christmas’! We don’t want any of the threatened ‘see your Granny at Christmas and bury her in January’ consequences round here.
We’re quite relieved that, so far at least, the family seems to be unanimous about our ‘little Christmas’ policy. Nobody likes it – but that’s just how it is. We’re glad that in our immediate family nobody is saying what was said to us this week – ‘All this lockdown business, it’s just politicians playing power-games. I haven’t let it change my life. I’ve been shopping. I’ve been on public transport when I wanted to. I’ve been fine.’ We found that a bit worrying. The conversation made us aware that there will be families where the decisions about who spends Christmas where will probably be as divisive as last Christmas’ national decisions over Brexit! Friends have told us they have to keep off the subject altogether at family gatherings!
So here’s a suggestion for families and friends to improve all our lives over the next few weeks whether or not we’ll be doing face to face ‘mixing’. We offer them in the hope that they might help with family harmony over Christmas!
Our suggestion is this: learn to say three words which form an important question. The three words contain only six letters. Each word has only two letters. The words are very easy to articulate. But not so easy to say meaningfully. Developing the skill to say them takes a lot of practice. Learning to say them to the right person in the right place and at the right time is equally challenging. Certainly saying them to the wrong person will get you absolutely nowhere. It might prove a serious set-back to the cause of peace and harmony!
So - if you can, find someone either inside or outside the family who is not only honest and direct but careful with words - gentle, wise and thoughtful. Find someone who knows how to listen. Someone whom you know believes you’re ready to hear the answer when you ask the question that the three words form.
Finally, there’s one more skill involved – being ready to hear their answer to the three words, to think about it – and maybe change something as a result! Here are the three words: ‘Is it me?’
Merry Christmas! Peace on earth and good will to everyone!
Next week we shall be taking a break for Christmas but hope to meet up here again in 2021.