My brother is not a good cook. Since we were old enough to turn on the stove there is only one meal I've eaten that he has fully prepared: his signature Christmas breakfast hash.
For as long as I can remember, we've woken up Christmas morning and made the 30 minute drive to Canby, Oregon to pick up my Grandma. We all attend service at St. Patrick's Catholic Church, take a photo on the altar, then make our way back to Grandma's house where Ben whips up his superbly average breakfast hash.
After eating, for whatever reason, we all remain at the table. This is unusual for my family who didn't grow up eating meals together. While the quality of the food may not be prioritized, the quality of the time is treasured. For what may be the only time that year, we sit, converse, and catch up on our families lives.
It's not lost on me that the amount of times we'll all be together to do this is numbered. That's why each year, this year especially, the focus is not on the eggs, but ensuring that each interaction holds meaning.
Whatever time we get with the people we love this year shouldn't be spent arguing about sports, reliving past hurts, or staring at our phones. Rather, we should focus on creating meaningful interactions with those that mean the most.
Here are a few ways I've learned to do just that.
Don't Make Assumptions
While we probably know our families better than most, we should still never assume how we think an interaction or event should go. People deserve a chance to prove us wrong, but they can only do that when we don't greet them with fully formed assumptions.
Create or Follow Traditions
Traditions may seem cheesy to some, but sometimes it may be the only reason your family comes together. If your family doesn't have any traditions, be the person to start one this year.
Do Something Together
Attempt a puzzle. Do an escape room. Go bowling. Serve at a food pantry. Make your gift this year an experience instead of a thing.
The key to meaningful interactions is understanding that the interaction is not about an end product, but about people.
I may only get to see my brother once a year, and if I have to eat some bad eggs to do it, so be it.
Ask someone with a family you admire what traditions they have in place.
What is one assumption about your family or loved ones you need to squash before seeing them?
“Some people are worth melting for.” - Olaf from Disney's Frozen