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Values are the key to healing disputes, and Christmas provides the opportunity. We may argue because of differences, but at a deeper level our shared values are a rich seam to be mined for warmth and comfort.

Differences and disagreements between family members are among the hazards of the so-called ‘festive season’. Christmas is, therefore, a time of great opportunity, for healing, hatchet-burying, growth and forgiveness.

Actually, forget forgiveness for now; it is a step too far at the beginning of this process, see No Shortcut to Forgiveness.

As I was saying… Opportunity. If you are one of the parties in a family rift or tension that needs healing (which, by definition, it does), now could be your moment.

Never mind the difference, feel the warmth

Every meaningful relationship generates warmth, but it is fragile, and can be easily extinguished. A disagreement might act like a draught, or a bucket of icy water; the warmth can be cooled over time, or suddenly doused. The result is the same however it comes about, and before you know it your relationship has caught a chill.

The remedy is to recognise the deep significance of personal values. These are the great leveller in that, whatever is going on between two people – however ‘different’ or unique each of you is – there is more that binds you than separates you.

Incidentally, this is true regardless of faith (or lack of it), creed or culture. Pick any human role or context you like, personal or professional, and when you bring two people with shared experience together – regardless of culture, language and all the rest – they can immediately unite (if they and others will allow it) in their common values.

Parents, fishermen, clerics, soldiers or shop assistants… human being even, there are shared traditions, experience, skill, ambitions which amount to a value-base which can be tapped into to provide a flow of warmth.

Common experience unites people in a way only common experience can. Even agreeing that you are in a dispute can be the start of a conversation about a shared experience, and a conversation is always better than an argument.

Note

(I’m struggling a bit here because this post is telling me it wants to be an essay, and I’m telling myself it must be brief. I got my own way, and I hope I have conveyed an idea in a way that is useful).

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