The gift of forgiveness allows this family to celebrate holidays together - without conflict or drama, and with real enthusiasm and joy.
I recently attended a big family holiday party. Between the happy couple who hosted this festive occasion, their parents, aunts, uncles, and siblings - 14 people in all - 14 divorces were represented (one person had two, and one had none). All are now in happy, committed relationships: some marriages, some relationships of long-standing, and some new pairings.
Of all those divorced couples, both sides of several key players were together in the same room. My niece E, her new husband, her ex B, and B's second wife co-hosted the party. Up the generational tree, her father and his second wife, her mother and her mother's new husband were also there. B's mother and her new husband attended, as did B's father and his new wife.
Maybe this number of divorces in this one extended, mature family isn't so remarkable. Would your family look like this?
What I am proud of - as it's my family and my statistics are in the mix - is that we were all able to join together to celebrate the festive season in the same room, amicably and even warmly across the board. No fireworks were present, no tears were shed in anger or in hurt, and no voices were raised, other than to wish each other a Happy New Year! No drama showed up, other than an impromptu entertainment performed by the younger members of the family, done with enthusiasm and joy.
We who had not seen each other in 15 years were happy to see our counterparts "on the other side," and we greeted each other with joy and friendship.
What makes us different? What magic have we all found, to be able to put away the conflict and ill-will that accompanies most divorces, and find companionship with one another?
Well, for one thing, for the grandparents, it's been a while. They have all found new partners and have been in their relationships for 20+ years. Over time, the anger has gone, the sharpness of hurt has softened, and forgiveness and compassion have come to take their place. For the parents, for whom the separation is of much shorter duration, new loves now fill their hearts. They have consciously chosen to cooperate, to make their children's lives easier - and their own, as well. As those whose maturity has brought some wisdom know, forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself first - and then, to others.
For that special weekend of celebration, we were all beneficiaries of that gift. We have now passed this gift on to the next generation as a model to follow.
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