A Christmas Drama


Once upon a time … there was a juggler and the juggler was busily balancing all the juggling balls – one ball was work, one ball was self, one ball was family … but the balls were getting heavy and out-of-balance and he dropped a ball …

During Christmas time, it’s easy for that to happen, to feel overwhelmed with all the extra’s of the season. My mom has her hands full working with my father’s memory challenges and handling all the insurance and financial issues associated with aging … so to take some pressure off everyone, I organized a cookie exchange. There were 6 of us and we’d all bake our one favorite recipe and give a dozen of our cookies away to the other’s … we would then bring home 5 dozen different tasty Christmas treats! Win, win for everyone!

The newest member of the family, my nephew’s fiancé was working tons of Christmas hours and wasn’t sure she could do the cookie exchange. That’s fine I told her, I understood her situation but since we were all baking that weekend and needed to know how many cookies to make, I asked her to say “yes” or “no.” And she said “yes”.

Two days later, the day of the cookie exchange, my nephew’s fiancé was not there, she was spending the day shopping with a friend and hadn’t left cookies for us. We all left our cookies for her and gave her extra needed time to bake in the next several days and told her we would pick up the cookies in a week. She replied back that she was making us all a delicious treat.

Next week came and no cookies. It was only a few days before Christmas now and this became more of a situation of ‘keeping your word’ and not dropping the ball with family than it was about cookies. I knew she was working a lot of hours so when I contacted her about not finding cookies on my last visit and being disappointed but understanding she was busy, I told her that she could simply buy some cookies or candy this year and bring it over on Christmas.

Well, I guess she never intended on participating in the cookie exchange, because instead of taking action and following through (she works at a store where there are cookies, it would only take 5 minutes or less to buy some) a DRAMA ensued. What is a drama? It is a situation where one person is cast as the victim, another is cast as the rescuer, and a third is cast as the villain. Guess who was the victim and who was the villain? Yep, I was cast as the bad person inflicting evil on a poor overworked soul (my nephew’s fiancé) and my brother became the rescuer, fighting the villain.

Whoa, time for a re-frame … this is totally turned around and I won’t play in Christmas drama’s … nothing I have done is remotely hurtful – it’s totally about holding the space respectfully and offering alternatives so another can keep their word to family and juggle that ball with balance. I can totally separate out a person’s behavior from the person – i.e. I can be disappointed in my nephew’s fiancés behavior but still love her as a person and new family member.

So is there a happy ending? Holding the space for a person is exhausting and I could have been resentful about it and felt it was unfair … but it’s Christmas, where love entered the world in the form of a little child who had to spend His first nights in a cold manger – that’s not exactly “fair” but it taught us that suffering in love is redemptive. So once it’s Christmas and family is together, everything is forgiven and there’s no mention of cookies and no entering drama.

Obviously, there’s a lesson to be learned from everything that happens and I hope my nephew’s fiancé will be strong enough in the future to say “no” to things she won’t have time for. I’m guessing that by saying “yes” and then not following through that she has some lingering internal angst (shame, regret, resentfulness) … all of which I’m sure led to a Christmas Drama sadly brought on by herself, and which could have been avoided by honestly assessing the situation.

But back to happy endings … was there one?  Yes! There was a happy ending – love prevailed and Christmas was celebrated with family present – the greatest gift of all!  May God Bless you and yours this holiday season!

2 thoughts on “A Christmas Drama

  1. Just a couple of follow up thoughts on “drama’s” – a person in drama expends more energy with the drama in avoiding action than it would take to actually complete a problem solving action. If you can pity that person, it helps you stay out of drama, because the person in drama is really stuck, spinning their wheels. They may need help but aren’t always willing to accept it. You can want someone to live more freely and “hold the space” like I did but you can’t force someone to step up to the plate …

  2. And another point – when you don’t enter a person’s “drama” you will often be cast as the villain or bad guy by them … it can be frustrating but don’t take the bait and live up to the villain part … don’t be critical or mean but rather stick to the facts, what was promised or expected and how you hope it turns out. Like I said above, you can’t force another person’s actions but you can choose your own and you can choose how you interact with drama kings and queens in the future.

    One thing about my nephew’s finance is that I’ve seen her “poor me” drama as a life role repeating throughout various areas and particularly in her work – where she feels burdened and taken advantage of and then leaves the job for another one, only for the drama to repeat itself. It’s sad and I still hold hope that she will make better and more empowering choices – starting with really thinking ahead if her yes can be yes and having the courage to know when to gracefully say no.

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