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This article was published December 20, 2012 at 3:41 a.m.

— DEAR REV. GRAHAM: Our extended family is showing up fordinner this Christmas, and I’m really dreading it. Some of them are very hard to get along with. Should we just be gracious and pretend everything is OK, or should weconfront them if they start getting out of hand?

  • N.C.C.

DEAR N.C.C.: Instead of seeing this as a problem, why not ask God to help you see it as an opportunity - an opportunity to bring your family closer together?

How might you do this? One way would be to do all you can to include others in your planning and preparation - even some who normally aren’t included. Maybe you could ask that troublesome aunt to bring a favorite recipe; perhaps that di◊cult brother-in-law could be put in charge of seeing that everyone is o◊ered an appetizer. You’ll have your own suggestions, of course; the main thing is to make everyone feel welcome. Take to heart the Bible’s admonition to “Practice hospitality” (Romans 12:13).

Then pray about this gathering, asking God to defuse any potential problems and hurt feelings, and to make it a time of peace and joy. Begin your meal with a prayer (even if you never have before), thanking God not only for the food He has provided, but also for the privilege of being together as a family.

Ask God to help you be an example of grace and kindness to your family. It could do much to calm some who might otherwise be tempted to speak critically or unwisely. The Bible says, “As God’s chosen people ... clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12).

Write to Billy Graham in care of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C. 28201 or visit the website at

Weekend, Pages 32 on 12/20/2012




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