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 | By Cynthia Kaan

Making a Fresh Start With Family Gatherings

Many families experience divisions at one time or another — disagreements about holidays, inheritance, perceived parental favoritism and more can lead to periods where someone in the family is not speaking to someone else. Especially as we approach the holidays, how can we move beyond those divides and press the reset button?

  1. Pray to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots, the patroness of difficult marriages, family conflicts, addictions, anxieties and personal challenges. Her feast day is on Sept. 28, making September a great month to pray this specific novena to Mary.
  2. If you’re planning a holiday dinner where everyone will be together for the first time in a while, be transparent about expectations and hopes as a family. Have a conversation beforehand to determine if there are sensitive topics that should be “off the table” during the gathering.
  3. Perhaps go out to eat rather than gather in someone’s home. Neutral ground can help with neutral conversations.
  4. Or really switch it up and do an activity together — possibly not on a holiday, but a nearby date. Instead of the potential awkwardness of sitting around a table, go hiking, plan a picnic, or enjoy a museum or sporting event together. You will still be able to catch up, but the mood around conversations will be lighter.

Remember that, while you didn’t choose your family, God chose them for you. Even if we don’t like everyone in the family at every moment, we are called to love them — and love is about action, not feeling. When you’re feeling frustrated with family, silently say this prayer for help: Jesus, make our hearts like yours so we may love like you do. Amen.