Freeman Cebu Lifestyle

Christmas in the home

Archie Modequillo - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Christmas is both a public and domestic celebration. Aside from the ostentatious community festivities, there is a more meaningful observance at home. It is the time for homecomings and rare family get-togethers.

The family is a closely knit social structure, yet the special intimacy makes it so fragile as well. Feelings of minor disapproval and objection among family members are often glossed over with civility and, thus, the fire of bad feeling grows undetected underneath; and can eventually consume precious relationships.

In family life, there are bound to be moments of strong disagreement and quarrel. A Christmas get-together can be both jovial and volatile. Ageing parents can be irritable. Old sibling rivalry can once again surface.

A family member may be slighted by something another member does or say, but the resentment never gets communicated in the proper way. Words said or gestures made by a sibling for the sake of fun or as language of endearment are sometimes misconstrued by another as affronts.

Soon the hidden grudge manifests in the aggrieved party's bearing, in his facial expression, tone of voice or brash actions, but the innocent offender will never have an idea what it's all about. He will not be able to tell what's going on inside the other sibling or between them. Then matters begin to be complicated; until it becomes hard to tell what this exchange of hurt feelings was all about in the first place.

Feelings - good or bad - should be expressed properly. While it is, of course, out of place to engage in a heated confrontation at Christmastime, it is far more damaging to sulk, to secretly harbor a grudge, and express resentment in indirect ways. The other person will never know the real issue of the animosity and, instead, feel he is simply being picked on and will take great offense of it.

Conflicts are often nastiest and most difficult to resolve when misgivings and resentments are not let out in the open. Some family members are like tracks in a railway, always running parallel, always close together, but never touching each other.


It is important for family members to know how to quarrel - like they know how to laugh together. The family is strong when there is constructive communication among its members. Some people tend to expect their parents or siblings to be perfect more than they can be expected to be perfect themselves.

Family members should know where they stand with each other. One way to clear family misunderstandings is a constructive fight - one that leads to resolution; a cleansing process where bad feelings are let out and discarded for good, never to be picked up again. In the end, both parties must agree to put the matter behind them, forever.

A quarrel in the family should be done in an atmosphere where feelings of feuding members are honestly expressed in an environment of fundamental respect and affection towards each other. The quarrelling parties must remember that the confrontation is about resolving their conflict, not about winning or losing. If necessary, a commonly respected family member may be called to mediate.

It's a wonder how people tend to close themselves to communication just when they should be open to discuss the issues that keep them apart.

It is worth every effort to try to keep the family together, whether at Christmas or at any other time. The issue of conflict between or among family members shall be pinpointed and accordingly dealt with. Then it is far less likely to damage the relationship any further.


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