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Standing on Ceremony
by Dr. Dale V. Atkins, November 2010

Think for a moment about how many occasions have been spoiled or opportunities lost because of someone's need to "stand on ceremony."

"He should have called me." "I am tired of reaching out. It is her turn."

Often we judge others based on "rules" that just do not apply in specific situations. We don't always know what someone is dealing with, what hurts their heart, or takes their time. Giving someone the benefit of the doubt can be a most important gift. Too often, our egos and sense of importance get caught up in social interactions that invariably contribute to familial misunderstandings and rifts. Other family members find themselves in difficult positions, concerned that others expect them to "take sides" which can create even deeper family fissures than were originally present.

Holiday time is ripe for these sorts engagements. Rather than thinking of the people you would like to reach out to for holiday greetings, many of us create a mental list of those who have not reached out to us. Our internal dialogue goes something like this, "I am not calling them. With all that I do for them, the least they can do is call to say happy holidays."

This may, in fact, be true. However, have you considered that perhaps one of the reasons you do so much for them is because they are overwhelmed? It would be wonderful if they would extend themselves but maybe they just can't at this time. Yes, feelings get hurt and chasms form.

This holiday, try to reach out and offer an open heart as you wish friends and family a healthy and happy holiday. If they say, I was thinking of you, smile and say you are glad to know you were on their mind. Give your best self. That will never hurt you but if you hold onto resentment and blame, making mental lists of who does not make the grade, it will.

Consider carefully. Ceremony is a weak foundation on which to stand.

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