Close Encounters of the Weird Kind


 Close encounters of the weird kind?

Are you dreading those obligatory holiday get-togethers where you’re thrown together with people you don’t like?

Here are 5 tips from an expert* for avoiding clashes with relatives and “friends” with whom you have nothing in common.

*The “expert” is not me.

You’ve probably heard it said that every family tree produces some lemons, some nuts, and a few bad apples.  You know the type—loud and obnoxious (especially after indulging in too much spiked eggnog), or maybe quiet and catty, but these relatives who have known you forever definitely know how to push your buttons.

They are inevitably from the other political party or religion, and they are out to show you up or set you straight.  They may remember all the stupid things you’ve ever said or done, and they have a knack for bringing up these embarrassing stories at the worst possible times.

Fortunately, King Solomon, who was much wiser than I, wrote most of the Bible’s book of Proverbs.  And though these wise sayings were written thousands of years ago, the advice contained in them is as applicable to life today as it was when this collection was first penned.

Here are 5 of my favorite proverbs for maintaining peace and tranquility at potentially contentious family gatherings:

  • Keep your cool! Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer quiets anger, but a harsh one stirs it up.”  Don’t take the bait.
  • Don’t argue. Family holiday gatherings are generally not the best occasions for debates on sensitive issues.  Solomon says in Proverbs 17:14: “The start of an argument is like the first break in a dam; stop it before it goes any further.”
  • Don’t engage with hot-tempered people. “Don’t make friends with people who have hot, violent tempers,” King Solomon advises (Proverbs 22:24).  It doesn’t pay.
  • Guard your words. “Be careful what you say…” (Proverbs 13:3).  Words heatedly and carelessly thrown out can’t be taken back.
  • Avoid gossiping. It can hurt others and can come back to embarrass you later.  Proverbs 11:13 says, “No one who gossips can be trusted with a secret . . .”


Verses from Proverbs are quoted from Today’s English Version.


P.S.  Some of the best advice my father ever gave me came from Proverbs 17:28 (the King James Version):  “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise…”

Happy Holidays!

By Sharon Sheppard