Christmas Quarrels

Christmas Quarrels

It seems as if not a day goes by that my children don’t fight or shout at each other, usually for very minor reasons.

I’ve tried so many things. We’ve gone through bible studies on kindness. We’ve had sticker charts, where they get stars for speaking kindly and encouragingly to one another. We’ve tried punishments and the taking away of privileges.

Recently, I’ve introduced a jar of kindness. For every kind deed they do, a coloured pom-pom goes in the jar. Very unkind acts have pom-poms removed. When the jar is full they get a special treat – like a trip to the cinema. There is only one jar between them, so they have to work together to fill it.

The first day or two it worked a treat. I’d never seen such kindness and co-operation. But they quickly started to forget about it.

They did fill it eventually and we’re working on their second jar now. However, progress is slow. It seems there is no magic bullet to combat the bickering. Or at least I haven’t found one. If you have any ideas, please do share!

It is probably the thing I find most challenging to deal with. The frequent hum of squabbling in the house, rising to regular crescendos.

Why does it persist?

Why is it so many families struggle to get on well? Even as adults, many will be dreading the family gatherings that Christmas brings.

The simplest answer, I guess, is because we are fallen. As soon as Adam and Eve turned away from God and chomped down on the forbidden fruit, it caused division between the married couple, and between them and God.

The first siblings in the bible, born to Adam and Eve, fought so badly, that one murdered the other. And ever since, as you read through the stories of the Old Testament, you find brothers and sisters divided.

In fact, friction is so common, when you see a family get on well, it is quite a remarkable and beautiful thing.

How can we create that in our own homes and lives? Is there any answer to the brokenness in our families?

There is one.

He was born 2023 years ago, in a stable, in Bethlehem.

Simply by being born to Mary and Joseph, on that first Christmas, he started to bring together divided families.

For example, at the start of the gospel of Matthew (1:1-16), we are told that Jesus’ lineage included both Israelites and Canaanites (Rahab was a Canaanite).

The Canaanites were enemies of the Israelites. However, if you trace their origins back through the book of Genesis, Canaan was Noah’s grandson. The two nations were actually distant relatives.

That first Christmas, in many ways, was the start of Jesus overcoming division. In families, communities and even between nations. His ancestry incorporates divided families and nations, as well as the rich and poor, religious people and prostitutes, Jews and Gentiles.

As a baby, Jesus first visitors included local shepherds and rich wise men from distant lands. Indeed the angels who announced Jesus’ birth proclaimed: “Peace on earth and good will toward men.” (Luke 2:14).

Later, in his letter to the Galatian church, Paul could write, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”(Galatians 3:28). And to the church at Ephesus, “[Jesus] himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14).

Jesus came to bring true unity. One day he will complete his work, and all fighting and division will cease. 

While we wait for that day, we can all keep practicing to be a little more like Jesus. “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).

Perhaps the best way we can teach our children to be peacekeepers, is by example.

Wishing you all a very happy and tranquil Christmas and New Year.

Seed Decorations
Jesus’ birth sowed the seeds of peace. From sowing seeds to seed baubles. One of our favourite Christmas decorations to make are these festive bird feeders.

You will need:

  • 500g Lard
  • 575g Wild bird seed
  • 150g Dried fruit
  • 150g fresh cranberries
  • Bundt tin
  • Large ribbon

 

Instructions:

  • Melt lard
  • Add seeds and fresh cranberries
  • Stir and pour into a bundt tin
  • Allow it set hard in the fridge
  • Remove and tie with a thick ribbon.
  • Hang from a tree in the garden.

 

Peanut Butter Baubles

You will need:

  • Empty toilet rolls
  • Peanut butter
  • Wild bird seed
  • Jute string

Instructions:

  • Cut toilet rolls in half
  • Smear with peanut butter
  • Roll in seeds
  • Attach string and hang from trees and bushes in your garden.

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