The Raphael Remedy

Put up your dukes! The holidays are here.

by | Nov 15, 2023 | Counseling

Ah…the holidays can evoke a lot of emotions. Beautiful memories of holidays past with family that have passed on, and trepidation for the conflicts that can arise with those that are left.

We’re living in some strange and strained times. As if families don’t have enough of their own issues that may cause division, the world has offered up a veritable smorgasbord of divisions to choose from: race, religion, politics, “climate change”, LGBT issues, drag queen story hours, Covid protocols, vaccines, masks, Ukraine, Israel and Palestine…have I missed anything? Each year they ante up and it’s up to us to match, check, or raise the stakes. When it was more subtle perhaps it was easier to unwittingly take the bait. But now, the obvious nature of things should cause us to pause and consider their malicious agenda of dividing people, especially families, at all costs and simply check.

Virtually every culture has holidays and gather in family and friend groups to celebrate them. So, what’s the purpose of holiday gatherings, anyway? They’re supposed to bring unity, a shared sense of faith, culture or patriotism. To give thanks for our blessings (not reserved only for Thanksgiving) and to enjoy a sense of belonging and love. Holidays are times of celebration…but can degenerate into dreaded events that rub salt into the wounds of hurts and divisions that have developed over the years, or are fomenting in the present.

So, how can you deal well with the holidays and regain a sense of family unity and celebration?

Forewarned is forearmed.

Be realistic with your expectations. Instead of using wishful thinking that all will go smoothly this year, despite what seems to happen every year, formulate a plan to deal with what actually is, instead of what you wish it would be. Here are some ideas:

Spiritual preparation

Invite Jesus and Mary to your gathering. Remember, at the Marriage Feast of Cana, the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and His disciples were also invited. Like then, Mary, who notices our needs even before we do, will intercede to her Son for what is needed to bring peace, harmony, and maybe even a miracle.

Bless your home with Holy Water and place blessed holy objects around as well. The prayer of the Church is powerful and evil spirits flee in their presence.

Ask God to bind any spirits that are not of the Holy Spirit and render them deaf, dumb and blind. Sure, there are still human emotions and vices that may come into play but calling on the power of Almighty God to clear the field and limit provocation is always a good idea.

Pray for each guest individually, by name before the gathering. Ask God to allow them to feel His love for them and call to mind the things you love or like about them.

Decide to not allow yourself to get rattled or provoked. The evil one loves to steal your peace. Don’t let him. If he tries, remind yourself of your decision, call on the Holy
Spirit and regroup.

On a practical level

It’s often too easy to recall those things that divide you. Make a conscious effort to look for those things that bring you together. What do you share in common?

With family and extended family, perhaps bring some old family photos. Grandparents and great aunts and uncles that have gone before us, were often the glue that held the family together. November is the month dedicated to the Holy souls. Ask their intercession now to bring about a renewed unity.

Share memories of family members or experiences that you shared when younger. Focus on the positive and funny memories and evoke a sense of gratitude. Our brains are wired for community and connection. Just five minutes of sharing positive and joyful memories can reset your brain and help you more easily connect and experience a sense of community.

Are there some favorite things you once shared in common? Sports, gardening, hobbies, travel. Focus the conversation on these things.

Play a game together. Doing something that forces your brain to focus on something can help distract and crowd out negative thoughts and feelings and create new positive memories.

Make some resolutions

The one thing each and every guest has in common is the need and desire to be loved and esteemed. Many struggle with past wounds and act in ways that may be hard to love. Love them anyway. Resolve to show them Jesus in whatever simple way you can reflect Him. Resolve to give everyone, family, friend or foe, a sense of family and belonging, even if only for the day. If we can all do that, the many divisions that the world proffers will lose their power.

I am so grateful for each and every one of you. Be abundantly blessed! Happy Thanksgiving.

Allison Ricciardi, LMHC
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