The holiday season is filled with decorations, food, presents, family photos, and social and work gift exchanges. The holidays can be a fun time, full of food, festivities and gifts, but for many people the holidays can be a stressful time. Although the holiday season could be a time to celebrate friends and family, some are at a loss when family members do not get along and they feel like they have to survive the tension while sitting at the table, drinking apple cider and eating turkey. Almost every family has a “black sheep,” that one family member who is isolated because he or she is too eccentric, too smart, too outspoken or too opinionated with views not shared by the rest of the family. Keep in mind, though, that isolating this person can be extremely painful to the individual emotionally and mentally, and causes more harm than good.
How black sheep acquire the label
Many family members who are outcasts are actually not bad people; they may have different views and values or may even have a mental disorder. Many black sheep are actually lovable people who are either extremely bright or creative. These family members are the ones who think outside the box and may get into a little trouble once in awhile. For example, a nephew may have gotten suspended from school for missing too many days, or the older cousin is labeled as a “party girl” because she often stays out late with her friends, or the young doctor in the family is the black sheep because of her success at such a young age. These are not necessarily bad people, and they do not deserve the black-sheep label. The holidays would not be the same without them.
Give thanks for every family member
For many it is not specifically the individual with the problem, instead it is the family’s perception of that person. Just like co-workers and strangers, family members will also judge each other. Instead of judging, it’s vital to find the value and good in every family member and give thanks for having that person around. Instead of shaming the black sheep at the holiday table or forcing him or her to sit at the kids’ table, take a moment and be thankful for sharing a meal with loved ones for the holidays, a luxury that some people do not get to experience.
Written by Kristen Fuller, M.D., Sovereign Health Group writer