I still remember the Christmas I let a passive-aggressive comment dampen my Christmas spirit. I made my best coconut cream pie--a Christmas family favorite. As I was slicing it up, I asked who wanted whipped cream. My husband's new step-mother answered back, "Is it real whipped cream or cool whip?" "It's real whipped cream," I responded thinking she would appreciate the extra mile. "Well," she huffed, "then I won't have any."
Later I learned that this new member of our family secretly resented any woman who did not work outside the home--I was a stay-at-home mom at the time and my homemade goodies threatened her. That abrupt remark wounded my tender spirit and set our relationship on a rocky course. She died many years ago but I still regret that I took such offense. Oversensitive women can easily ruin Christmas for everybody.
We find similar situations throughout the pages of history. Even our larger-than-life heroines experienced conflict with other women. For example, Abigail Adams, the wife of our second president and mother of the sixth, stands as a tower of intellect, faith, and fortitude, a model to those who read her biographies drawn from volumes of her letters preserved by historians. Yet her letters reveal a heart-wrenching conflict she carried to her grave. With husband John gone much of their married life, Abigail spent evenings corresponding with friends. One of the dearest was Mercy Warren, a woman of admirable intellect with whom she interacted on questions regarding the revolution and the birth of their beloved nation. For over 30 years, these two astute women encouraged and inspired each other. As their friendship blossomed, Abigail wrote to Mercy,
Let your letters be of the journal kind. I could participate in your amusements,
in your pleasures, and in your sentiments which would greatly gratify me,
and I should collect the best of intelligence.
But in 1805, Mercy’s three volumes on the American Revolution were published. Her work, according to both Abigail and John, contained numerous unflattering reports and “falsehoods” about John.
John, cut to the quick, took issue with Mercy passage by passage, all three
volumes worth, initiating an exchange of ten long, involved letters of
accusation and reproach that mounted to screaming pitch before they were
Alas, Abigail and Mercy parted bitterly. When Mercy’s husband died, Abigail wrestled with whether or not to at least send a note of sympathy.
However, she recognized Mercy and John’s fundamentally opposing
political beliefs, and was sadly resigned to the fact that the bitterness of
party spirit had severed them. After the injustice to John’s character and
the chance given Mercy to acknowledge her errors, which she wholly
omitted to do, Abigail felt she had no alternative. “I thought a letter of the
kind would appear insincere, and although I feel for her bereavement and
know how heavily she must feel it, I have declined writing to her.”
Shortly before their deaths, tokens of forgiveness were offered and timidly accepted, but the fire of their friendship never rekindled. How sad that these two women did not learn how to breach their differences, forgive one another, and restore their relationship.
Are you at odds with a family member or good friend, and suffering as a result? Do you dread Christmas gatherings for fear of the tension that you all too often allow to spoil the season, not only for yourself but for others too. Consider how you might over look the issue or work through it, and replace resentment with Christian love? How sad if female conflict overshadows the real meaning of the holiday. Christmas is about God coming to earth as a tiny baby for the purpose of redeeming the world to Himself. So what if she refuses your whipped cream? Serve her some cool whip with a smile or let her go without. But don't let her sidetrack you from the reason for the season. Advice from a lesson learned the hard way.