How to Enjoy Your in-laws During the Holidays
It's vital to recognize the role of beliefs.
"We are incredibly heedless in the formation of our beliefs, but
find ourselves filled with an illicit passion for them when
anyone proposes to rob us of their companionship." James Harvey
Most family squabbles come from opposing beliefs about something
that result in an exchange of insulting looks if not outright
It's easier to be tolerant of your in-laws when you understand
that they formed their beliefs as carelessly as you did and
defend them as much as you defend yours.
Family members who do not speak to each other for years carry an
unnecessary pain for years.
Here's a story, an old folk tale I heard on national Public
Long before recorded history two brothers owned and grew wheat
on a large parcel of land in what came to be Jerusalem. The
youngest brother married and had several children. The oldest
remained a bachelor. One year the two brothers had an argument
they did not resolve. They divided the land and built a fence to
separate them. Each continued growing wheat.
The years went by. The brothers did not speak to each other. One
night during harvest the oldest brother awoke with this thought:
I really don't need all this wheat. My brother has a big family
to feed. I will put some of my wheat in his barrels. Very early
in the morning he shoveled wheat from his harvest over the fence.
Meanwhile the younger brother thought, my brother doesn't have
any children to help him with the harvest. I'll give him some of
my wheat when he's asleep. So he shoveled a barrelful over the
fence onto his brother's land.
The next day, at different times, both brothers wondered why the
amount of wheat was the same on both sides of the fence.
This went on for a few more days until one night, when both
sneaked out to shovel wheat at the same time, they saw each
other and realized why the wheat levels had remained the same.
They tore down the fence next to a large rock and hugged.
When God saw that he declared that rock as his church on earth.
That's how the tale ends.
Today, four or five religions claim that rock in Jerusalem as
theirs. Blood has been shed over that rock for centuries. The
beliefs that we still fight over form our identities. And, by
God, we're not going to change them!
Enjoy the irony and love your in-laws.
Evelyn Cole, MA, MFA The Whole-mind Writer