The holidays, meant to bring joy, often do the opposite. It happens in all kinds of ways. An abundance of giving can make people want. Financial pressures can become acute. The intimidating new year approaches--sometimes as a grim reminder of last year's unfulfilled promises. And for many it's hard to be with family--everyone is in a different place in life and, coming together, there's an expectation that this can be put aside for the happiness of the unit. That's impossible to do. But there's one thing you can say to any family member--or anyone else--that expresses an important kind of love, especially during the holidays.
It's an observation that immediately conveys empathy. It acknowledges various troubles and anxieties. It knows each person for their individual journey. It sees the longing and the striving each of us do, our failure at times to measure up. It forgives in a way a person sometimes can't even forgive himself or herself. It forgives all trespasses. And it puts you on equal ground with all the people you may be sitting around the table with, for each person will immediately recognize its truth. The most loving thing you can say is this: "Life sure does take courage, doesn't it?" And saying this to a loved one you say you understand how hard life is--just the daily doing of it. The small things as much as the big things. Courage. Everybody alive--no matter where they are in life--has an amazing store of courage. Try it, say it.
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