Jesus willingly sought out the least desirable guests society had to offer and broke bread with them. Why do we struggle to do the same with our own family?

'Tis the season for holiday cheer, goodwill towards all, and resisting the urge to wring the necks of your closest relatives?

Apparently so, according to a recent study (and yes, for some of us, personal experience). The study, conducted by Ancestry, found that nearly half of Americans admitted to skipping out on a family gathering because the atmosphere is too toxic and divisive often due to disagreements over politics or other heated topics between family members.

So with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other holiday celebrations just around the corner, know that you aren't alone if you're already dreaming up innovative excuses to leave early, crawl under the table, or drink yourself numb. Anything to avoid getting into ugly, contentious, alcohol-fueled family arguments from which everyone emerges a loser.

But why does it have to be like this? Why do we have such a hard time getting along with those we are most closely related to?

An Age of Extremism

Perhaps this phenomenon is just a product of the time. After all, the current political climate is arguably more divided than at any point in recent memory; red is pitted against blue, haves against have-nots, pious against secular, and truth against conspiracy.

Thanks to the internet, it's never been easier to find someone to disagree with. And the wonderful, absolutely-not-flawed-whatsoever engagement algorithms of our favorite social media sites ensure that once tapped, the outrage wells keep flowing. Perhaps it's only natural that these arguments bleed over into family gatherings.  

The thing is, all this animosity seems to occur despite family members genuinely trying to get along. In fact, over 70% of survey respondents said they sincerely wanted to make these types of family gatherings more meaningful, they just didn't know how to overcome the ugliness.

If Jesus Did It, Why Can't We?

Assuming there is no easy way to change the complexion of these events, are we really better off skipping them?

Instead we should look to perhaps the most gracious dinner host this side of the AD. Jesus willingly sought out the least desirable guests society had to offer prostitutes, sinners, and tax collectors alike and broke bread with them. Even Pharisees and disciples eager to betray him were never shunned from his table.

Jesus exercised compassion in place of disdain, mercy in place of judgment, love in place of hate. He offered radical welcome and showed goodwill toward whomever he disagreed with.

Why can't we do the same?

The obvious answer is that we're not Jesus. True. But what's wrong with aspiring to live up to his example?

This holiday season, instead of skipping out on that get-together you've been dreading, try showing up with a good attitude and see what happens.

Sure, you might have to meditate through the rougher parts and restrain yourself from making any ill-considered comments. But if that recent study is any indication, even your grumpy uncle who disagrees with you on just about everything related to politics wants to enjoy the gathering - he just doesn't know how. So set the example yourself, and see what happens.

49 comments

  1. Messenger's Avatar Messenger

    Satin has his claws in the family's business, and don't want them to get along.So as they come together, others flash back on memories, homes are small, no place to run, he said, she said. Truthfully they lack love Love of what our heavenly Father has set forth for our future.

    1. Anna Brown's Avatar Anna Brown

      Messenger: for future reference - Satin is a weave that typically has a glossy surface and a dull back, one of three fundamental types of textile weaves along with plain weave and twill. Satan, also known as the Devil, is an entity in the Abrahamic religions that seduces humans into sin or falsehood.

      1. daria davidovna's Avatar daria davidovna

        Hee-Hee!!

        1. Headsquawker's Avatar Headsquawker

          It comes down to the saying, what you perceive to be true, will be. Knowing that the family atmosphere could be volatile, its best to adopt the attitude " I can't change my family, just myself, how I react, will set the tone." Yes, it's difficult knowing you will walk into the war zone, but peace is the way, being the peace maker will not only put a shift into the family gathering, but it will also put peace inside of you.

      2. Tom B's Avatar Tom B

        Anna...i join Daria in a good chuckle...Peace...Tom B

  1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

    Jesus didn’t exercise compassion if people refused to follow him, he was very condemning of them. Such was his huge ego!

    I actually enjoy holiday gatherings though.

    ?❤️

  1. Allen's Avatar Allen

    The celebration of Christmas, as we know it today, is certainly not scriptural. That doesn't mean that you can't make the most of it to tell people about Jesus and what he did for us all, except for those that have rejected the holy spirit. Allen

    1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      Personally, I’m tired of hearing about the Holy Spirit, whatever that really is. Certainly the genocidal god of the Old Testament didn’t have it, and I have my doubts that the Jesus of the New Testament really had it, when his huge ego got in the way. That’s if Jesus ever really existed. There appears to be a lot of conjecture about that. It’s possible he did, but who really knows? Fun topic though!

      ?❤️

      1. Allen's Avatar Allen

        I can certainly understand why you don't have the Holy Spirit. My prayers go out to you at this most difficult time in your life. Allen

        1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

          ? Oh that's okay Allen, you really don't have to talk to your imaginary friend by nodding at a wall, or speaking to the floor, or ceiling, for me, but if it makes you feel any better during this difficult time in your head, bless your heart, I am totally okay with it.

          I'd hate you to think I'm just singling you out Allen, I reject ALL gods, not just yours.

          ?♥️

          1. Allen's Avatar Allen

            Mr. Lionheart. I know as a rep of Satan that you are not just singling me out, anyone that is considered a Christian just stands in your way to try to prove that God or Jesus don't exist. I still pray for your soul. Allen

          2. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

            "Mr Lionheart, I know as a rep of satan..."

            I don't think you are a rep of Satan, Allen......... I jest, I just couldn't help myself there.... he doesn't exist either.


            But I digress, so do I take it then Allen that you have some demonstrable evidence that your god really exists?

            I'm sorry that you think that I'm a representative of another one of Christianity's imaginary beings. Thats exactly what delusion and indoctrination does Allen. It stops people thinking clearly, reasonably, and rationally.

            Like all others that believe that "their" god, and "their" religion is the one and only correct one, no one seems to be able to come up with enough evidence to prove their claim, worthy enough to be the next holder of the Nobel prize. Even their omnipotent god can't do it. Everyone struggles with it Allen, and all they end up doing is just saying they have the faith to believe their god, and their religion, is the right one. Would I be right in saying you will be saying the exact same thing Allen, or are you going to claim the Nobel prize?

            ?♥️

          3. Anna Brown's Avatar Anna Brown

            I really enjoy your comments

          4. Suzan Ward's Avatar Suzan Ward

            Lionheart....I truly commend you for holding your ground!!! :-) So many of us, who don't believe in the God of the bible, or perhaps ANY god at all, are at times hesitant to speak of what we DO, or do NOT believe, lest we be labeled an agent of Satan....And no, I do not believe in HIM, either!! LOL :-D
            Those of us who live in the "Bible Belt", have it even tougher. Even in this day and time, we risk losing our jobs, our "standing", and EVEN in some cases, our children, because we are not Christians. "They" find ways, if they have a grievance with you. Believe it or not, that is absolutely, unfortunately TRUE!! :-(
            We all have a right to our beliefs....I just don't appreciate "certain groups", trying to shove THEIRS, down my throat!! <3

          5. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

            Bless your hearts Anna, and Susan. Dare I quote a passage from an old book "The truth shall set you free" ?

            Having recovered from being involved in religion, I can honestly say that having freed my shackles fearing any god, I now have total freedom of thought. I now give my thanks of any achievements of mine to myself, and achievements of others to them. I don't give them away to some mythical god saying he/she did it. I take credit for myself, just as I take responsibility for my errors and don't blame it on a mythical devil.

            As it's been said "The difference between me and your god is that if I saw someone raping a child I would step in and do my best to stop it" I just love that quote from Tracie Harris, don't you? Many religious apologists would try to defend their god if it didn't step up to the plate to intervene, which of course we know it won't because it very clearly doesn't exist. Hence my "crusade" to open peoples eyes to stop following like sheep, and truly become free.

            Lionheart ?♥️

  1. Martha Knight's Avatar Martha Knight

    The gospels tell us about Jesus calling out the religious people who were hypocrites, religious leaders who had it wrong, people who exploited others, selfish people. He cleared greedy money changers and merchants out of the Gentile Court of the temple, calling them thieves.He told his disciples to use the shoe-shaking or throwing gesture of condemnation toward people in any community that did not receive their proclamation of the Kingdom.

  1. Minister Post's Avatar Minister Post

    Very good advice. We should also stop judging people. People that do what is written in Matthew 7: 1-6 will have no place in Heaven unless they repent and ask Jesus for forgiveness. Did you know that Christmas is a pagan holiday. Christmas is celebrating Samus, the son of Nimrod. Samus was killed by a wild boar and his mother planted a tree where he died. Also that is why we eat ham during the holidays.. Find the truth on YouTube channel :truth united. May God bless everyone this holiday season.

  1. Archbishop Yanel Jay Laroche Jr.'s Avatar Archbishop Yanel Jay Laroche Jr.

    It is the season to be giving really. And Christmas is almost here actually. And I love getting a lot of gifts on December every year in actuality. And that's the true story regarding me,Archbishop Yanel Jay Laroche Jr., so drug-free indefinitely in the U.S.A. daily.

  1. Carrie's Avatar Carrie

    Pfft! No such things as "religious holidays"! All of them were pagan festivals, stolen, repackaged, then weaponized and propagandized and turned on those who originally celebrated them. We have "family gatherings" where we get together to laugh, eat, and play.....yes we also bicker, after all, we are family! Have fun during your gatherings, catch up on family news, snog the wee lads and lasses and love the bairns.

  1. Reverend Dodd's Avatar Reverend Dodd

    Christmas should be a joyous time of the year for Christians, celebrating Christ's birth. Unfortunately, it has been replaced with commercialism, the expectation of gifts, the price of gifts, and drama of family members not getting along. These things has caused me to dread Christmas, as I am disabled, living on a fixed income and can't afford to buy for everyone nor afford to buy luxury gifts for those that I do buy for. I do strive to buy from the heart in choosing gifts they will like or need. For some, though, if it isn't of an expensive brand they turn their noses up at it, which is very hurtful. Family gatherings have became an entirely different issue and often requires multiple gatherings because this person can't come if that person is going to be there and so on. It is just to time consuming and exhausting. We do our best to see both sides of the family, but please don't expect us to now attend multiple events because of petty drama, or even worse, be excluded because someone disagrees with our religion or my disabilities.

    1. Anna Brown's Avatar Anna Brown

      Do what I do this time of year. I give everyone the pleasure of my company. Doesn't cost me a dime and yet it is so valuable.

      1. minister james's Avatar minister james

        Anna-back atcha'. The mutual enjoyment of love and friendship-not available in stores at any price...

        May we all find a better day.

  1. Tom B's Avatar Tom B

    Respectfully...Thanksgiving is the best of all the holidays, whether the rest are secular or religious...it requires just showing up to eat with people for whom one should have an affinity...it is not required to give gifts; it is not required to reiterate religious dogma, etc...it has, in my experience, simply been a group of people enjoying a dinner...i suggest everyone look at it that way...Peace...Tom B

    1. Anna Brown's Avatar Anna Brown

      Totally agree, Tom. Have a great Thanksgiving!

      1. Tom B's Avatar Tom B

        Anna...thank you...i hope you have a great Thanksgiving too...it seems that often people go through extreme gyrations to "turn a silk purse into a sow's ear"...Peace...Tom B

  1. Ptnorton@comcast.net's Avatar Ptnorton@comcast.net

    Can anyone provide a link to the Ancestry study mentioned in this article? Thank you.

  1. Thomas Wilson's Avatar Thomas Wilson

    In my opinion this article requires the assumption that the Christian Bible is infallible and that everything it says about Jesus is fact. Secondly it ignores or makes some assumptions that may not be supported by Jesus' question of "“Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” First this could indicate that he didn't immediately run out to his biological mother and brothers because he believed they were not his his family because he didn't consider them people who do the will of his Father in heaven.

    I personally suspect that this passage means that he considers his family the people in this world who believe in him and that he may have considered his relationship with his Biological family to be toxic. Now I feel obligated to point out that I do not believe that Jesus was any more a Son (Child of God) than anyone else. I do not believe he was God in the flesh. I believe within the place and time in which he was he had the greatest understanding of what it means to be a son or daughter of God and how that understanding is demonstrated in the life of those who also understand that. He also stated that God is love yet IMO there is plenty in both the Jewish Bible and the Christian Bible that is written about God and in some instances Jesus that shows just the opposite - in my opinion those parts actually slander God and Jesus.

    Both Fortunately and Unfortunately in the information age more people than ever are beginning to... In the words of Walt Whitman "Re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, Dismiss whatever insults your own soul; And your very flesh shall be a great poem…" This is causing conflicts in many institutions including biological families. Where those who are not questioning and coming to their own thoughtful conclusions respond toxically to those that do and in many instances likely the other way too. IMO sometimes this requires that we separate ourselves from those who either no longer believe in us or never have. Those persons who do not believe in us though we may give them some place in our lives do not belong in our intimate inner circle they may very well have to be kept at arms reach or further depending on their level of toxicity to us. I'm fortunate that has never been true of my own biological family but there are plenty of folks who I have had to burn bridges with, but those burnt bridges actually lit my way toward places and relationships that actually contribute to my personal growth.

    1. Natalia's Avatar Natalia

      Totally agree. Each of us has his own unique set of experiences. Re-uniting with the family or separating yourself from toxic family should never be up to anyone but ourselves. Being good to toxic people is not selfish but we have to set healthy boundaries. Bible doesn’t teach that. We learn it through personal growth. We cannot change anyone and we shouldn’t. In politics and religion you will always see mind control. Trying to convince someone to act in the way to match their spiritual beliefs is depriving others of their own personal growth.

  1. RVW's Avatar RVW

    I'm disappointed but no longer surprised that these comments have nothing to do with the subject matter: family discord at holiday gatherings and how to cope with it. It is a real and serious matter. I might share my own experiences and opinion but it wouldn't fit in with the above comments.

  1. Lea Weisenbach's Avatar Lea Weisenbach

    Ill come back and read everyone's comments later..But the Holidays are for everyone...Christian have to stop paying the victim here...Its not all about you..Christianity has destroyed my family so please would you please start thinking that we all have families and we love them..We all have faith and hope...And please..for peace on this earth...put you own selfish ways and stop blaming Satan for all your wrong doings.

  1. Tabitha's Avatar Tabitha

    Everything gets ugly when you involve the toxic culture of Xtianity. Those bigots can't even stand each other

  1. Tom B's Avatar Tom B

    Suzan...well said....Peace...Tom B

  1. Laura Fahr's Avatar Laura Fahr

    Amazes me that not one person mentioned boozs. My own G104 was military, we always had a table filled with airmen far from home. Alcohol was present but pretty consumption was one, maybe two drinks. They all, including my Dad, their boss, had to be able to work in case the Commies attacked. My poor husband's family though were knock down alcoholics. I was scared whenever we went to their house. Now that they have both passed on, holidays are enjoyable again.

  1. Wade's Avatar Wade

    @lionheart, I believe this world was created as was the solar system and the universe. To many things have to be perfect in order for it all to work. It couldn’t happen by accident. There must be a God. I am not sure of anything else but I do believe in God. As for how to deal with family discord. We need to remember the Lord’s Prayer and forgive those who have sinned against us. A gift to yourself is to forgive. It is liberating.

    1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      I am very pleased for you Wade that you have found something in life that satisfies your needs. I really mean that. I wouldn’t want anything else for you.

      Because there are wonderful things in this world doesn’t naturally mean there is a god that created it. If it did, where would that same logic sit with the 30,000 to 50,000 lives that were lost during the terrible tsunami of 2004? Not everything is perfect, or to our liking.

      The truth is, we don’t know how the universe was formed. We have our thoughts and ideas, just like religionists don’t know either so they like to turn to their book of myth, thinking it has all the answers, which of course it doesn’t.

      ?❤️

      1. Martha Knight's Avatar Martha Knight

        "I don't know why the grass is green and how a rainbow is formed, so there is a Creator God." That would be what some call the Great God of the Gaps, the one used to fill in gaps in our understanding. And every time science does present reasons, such as chlorophyll, the effect of light shining through water droplets, etc., GGG shrinks!

  1. Andrew Miller's Avatar Andrew Miller

    Every year for about 30 some odd years I've hated Christmas because Christmas isn't Christmas like when I was a child. As I gotten older I started to hate Christmas stores started to stock Christmas decoration in the month of September, When they started to commercialize Christmas. Folks now days done forgot to true meaning of Christmas, or when some folks say Happy Holidays not saying Merry Christmas. Now I now hate even though more of the Holidays, because I lost my beloved wife of 32year to Cancer back in April 7th of 2019. I know I shouldn't because I still have other family members to spend on Thanksgiving & Christmas holidays, yea right sure I will.

    1. Cheri's Avatar Cheri

      So sorry for your loss, Andrew. Greif is a tricky bird that can sometimes get the better of us, especially if the wound is still fresh... of this I know.

      Be well.

    2. Lea Weisenbach's Avatar Lea Weisenbach

      Andrew Miller..Sorry for your loss. Its a shame what the Holidays have become..I try my best to keep it simple and thankful for all my past memories. So when I decorate my tree I just love all the ornaments...and memories..So I call my tree my memory tree. Time dose heal?

  1. Secretary3rd's Avatar Secretary3rd

    Holidays are filled with a heavy meal and football. In the old days gone past. Relatives lived closed to each other. Today they are scatter across the country. You can still see each other by video which saves a bundle on air line tickets. I met a woman yesterday at a meeting that reminds me of a person that must have been raise in Hell that is the type of person that hates everything and everyone and she told me so. I am the type of creature that loves her type of person, I'm trying to find the proper curse to place on her to make her life more unbearable then what she does upon others. Now before you people complain about my skilled as a sorcery it is something that runs in the family and we use it sparely. That great Christmas Carol of Scrooge brought to life and it is that time of year is it not.

  1. Albert A Hernandez's Avatar Albert A Hernandez

    THANKSGIVING

    "Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

    The way to rejoice evermore is to pray without ceasing. A religious life is a pleasant life, a clean life. It is a life of constant joy, of hope and blessings. It is a life of miracles and victories. We should be thankful in every condition, even in adversity as well as prosperity. It is never so bad with us that it could be worse.

    Did you awake without harm? Be thankful; many did not woke up this morning. Are you going to work, but dread the day? Be thankful; millions wish they had a job. Is there a family in your house? Be thankful if there is: loneliness is a sad way to live. Are you healthy? Be thankful; many cannot get out of bed. Are you content? Be thankful you have what you have; there are millions in this world that would gladly trade places with you.

    God bless and have a great THANKSGIVING!

    Albert A. Hernandez, D. Div., Ph. D.

    1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      These are Alberts words for those who believe in a god or goddess.

      For those who are secular:

      Let There Be Peace on Earth and let it begin with me. Let There Be Peace on Earth, the peace that we long to see! With Earth as our mother, family all are we. Let us walk with each other in perfect harmony.

      Let peace begin with me. Let this be the moment now. With ev’ry breath I take, let this be my solemn vow; To take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally! Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me!

      ?❤️

      1. Albert A Hernandez's Avatar Albert A Hernandez

        Nice words, who's are they?

        1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

          They can be attributed to Sy Miller and Bill Jackson from the song Let There Be Peace On Earth.

          ?❤️

          1. Albert A Hernandez's Avatar Albert A Hernandez

            "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." (Matthew 5:9)

          2. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

            “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” —Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

            “You fail to recognize that it matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be!” —Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

            Quotes from Dumbledore

            ?♥️

      2. Lea Weisenbach's Avatar Lea Weisenbach

        Lion heart..that was beautiful..Thank you..I'm going to do a copy.

  1. Lea Weisenbach's Avatar Lea Weisenbach

    I think the best focus on all the holidays is just being Thankful. Happy Thanksgiving everyone

    1. Tom B's Avatar Tom B

      Lea...well said...Peace...Tom B

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