Every year, my family gathers at my grandmother’s house for Christmas.  Imagine 40ish people, many of whom are under the age of 10, crammed into an 800 square foot house.  Actually, we spend the holiday in the garage—which is even smaller than the house—leading my wife to dub the event as “Chaos in the Carport.”

If your family is anything like mine, tempers are short, relationships that were never easy to begin with get even rockier, and the emotions of the seasons shove us this way and that like a drunken pinball.  Good times.

Actually, I love it.  I love the noise, the teasing, the swarm of kids and puppies, the turkey, the laughter, the biscuits, and my grandmother.  It is a time to reconnect and give thanks, and feel a bit of joy in the universe, but it’s so easy to forget all that, to get hijacked, irritated, and tilted.  (And not just emotionally hurt—an Epperson family Christmas has a high occurrence of accidental crashes, breaks, and cuts.  It’s as if the elves broke out the eggnog, took a joy ride in the sleigh, and ended up in a ditch somewhere in Idaho.)

No matter what holiday you celebrate, it will likely involve a.) family, and b.) short tempers.  When you feel yourself in the not-so-loving-holiday-spirit, take a moment and remember: our choices leave others feeling taller or smaller—and who wants to feel small? Choose to make a positive impact on those you love the most—a kind word, a hug, a sincere note of appreciation, or heck, a heartfelt story about how they made an amazing difference in your life. You will be surprised at how good you feel, and how likely they are to pay that gift of kindness forward.

(You can even make a positive impact on the strangers you bump into on Black Friday.  They too are human beings, not perfect beings, and they probably didn’t mean to cut you off in the parking lot!)


Tom Epperson

Tom Epperson

Dr. Tom Epperson is the President of InnerWill, and an instructor in Virginia Commonwealth University’s Executive MBA program. Tom is a certified business coach and has a Doctorate in Leadership from The George Washington University. Tom works with clients on cultural transformation, leadership development, executive coaching, and igniting individual and organizational potential. Previously, Tom served as the HR Director for Luck Companies, and played a significant role as one of the architects of Luck Companies’ cultural transformation.

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