As many of us gather together for Christmas it’s almost inevitable that one of your family or friends is going to take something you say out of context, get offended, and storm off is higher than normal. These unfortunate holiday mishaps happen not only at parties and dinners but also on social media (with complete strangers to boot). Even with all of our good intentions sometimes we are still misunderstood. Some people use their time to criticize, judge hearts, or just enjoy starting digital fights. Instead of embodying the angelic, sweet joy of Christmas, some people take to being angry elves. (“Angry elf” is a term taken from the movie, Elf. An angry elf is a person (or actual elf if you those exist) who does not embody the Christmas spirit.)
It begs the question of what or who really matters.
Too many people waste their energy on things that matter very little. Too many people use words that hurt more than they help. And too many people harbor hate instead of giving love. But …. they still matter – not their hurtful words or judging looks but these people matter because of Who really matters to us (hint: it’s God).
Don’t misunderstand me – of course, we all matter to God. But not all opinions of others should matter to us. What really matters to us should change us. There will always be people who disagree, misunderstand, or simply judge your very soul. Let them – and love them anyway. Don’t let the devil persuade you into thinking that everyone hates you or that you should retaliate with hate.
These three simple messages of Christmas can guide us when it comes to dealing with “angry elves” this holiday season – or anytime of the year.
Peace is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5: 22-23) and is required for the respect and development of every human life (CCC, 2304). Being peaceful and pursuing peace among others is a work of justice. To keep the peace doesn’t always mean keeping your mouth shut but it does require respectful communication and has fraternity as its aim. When situations of conflict present themselves – don’t engage, instead listen with an open heart, don’t take offense and offer a peaceful response.
“Tell me what you love, and I will tell you who you are”, said by French novelist Arsene Houssaye, is insightful as it is scary. Who or what really matters to us will be reflected in our daily choices. Love goes beyond the romantic escapades or gifts given/received – but reaches out to those that are the hardest to love. Love (God) wants to love the angry sister, the jaded brother, the curmudgeon of a friend or the person who was born without a sense of humor – all those prickly people that drive us nuts. And the love of God compels us to love them as well. Love asks us to forgive, to let go, to look beyond the hurt and sufferings of others and love them where they are at.
Joy, another gift of the Holy Spirit, is one of my favorites. Joy is not the absence of problems but the knowledge that you’re not alone in them. When the smile of joy is not present on our faces, it can still be on our hearts. Joy is the mark of a true Christian. When we abide fully in Christ, we will have full joy (John 15: 7-11). Happy people help others be happy. Don’t be the ‘Debbie Downer’ or “Judgy McJudgerson” of the party – be joyful and always find good in the other.
Don’t be the angry elf this Christmas season. Instead, offer peace, love, and joy to others so that the true meaning of this season is not lost in our insecurities, pain, or pride.