I’m Turning Relatives Into Trees for Christmas — Want to Join Me?


I consider myself a people person.

I like people.

They spark my curiosity, and I want to know their stories.

What made them think a certain way about something?

Who were their parents?

What have they seen?

What joys have they known? What pains?

Sometimes this is easier with strangers than with those we love — at least this is the case for me.

I’ve been accused of being too accepting. People tell me I attract “oddballs.” I suppose I find unconventional souls a bit more intriguing. Bland is harder to stomach, yet there’s curiosity there as well.

The holidays are upon us. I’m thinking about family members — fundamentalists, Trump supporters, drunks, gun lovers. We’ll be dining together. I’ll be gnawing my tongue and balancing when to speak up and when to take more of a passive, compassionate approach.

I’m going to start collecting mantras now:

Peace begins with me.

We don’t have to think alike to love alike

 But it’s a hell of a lot easier, don’t you think?!

I love the following by Ram Dass. I have a printed copy on display near my desk:

When you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees.

And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever.

And you look at the tree and you allow it.

You see why it is the way it is.

You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way.

And you don’t get all emotional about it.

You just allow it.

You appreciate the tree.

The minute you get near humans, you lose all that.

And you are constantly saying ‘You’re too this, or I’m too this.’

That judging mind comes in.

And so I practice turning people into trees.

Which means appreciating them just the way they are.

Who are you turning into a tree this holiday season?

23 thoughts on “I’m Turning Relatives Into Trees for Christmas — Want to Join Me?

  1. This is the perfect mantra and the relation to trees is so wonderful! I have found it is essential to try and calm myself as much as I can, when people start to cause my blood to boil a bit. I take deep, quiet breaths, listen, listening is truly key, while I collect my thoughts on what they are saying. Then, if I feel it’s needed, I give a reply, as thoughtful and non-defensive as possible. Sometimes I find it best to just formulate a question for them because it gives me more time and substance for a greater understanding of where they are coming from. My husband also attracts, “oddballs” but he also has some of the best stories about random people he has conversed with and connects with so many people in the neighborhood(=. Hope you had a wonderful holiday season! ~Anne

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m behind replying to comments, but I LOVED reading this. I also have to work at calming myself by breathing. I love what you said about listening. I absolutely believe listening is key in so many situations, and you hit another important point in terms of responding. Formulating a response as a question is a great idea as it shows that you’re keeping things open and creating a discussion. Wise words for sure, friend. I had a lovely holiday and am back to the old routine now. I hope yours was nice, too. Thanks for reading. Have a wonderful 2018. ~ Viv

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I absolutely LOVE this post. I couldn’t agree more about the trees which has given me food for thought. We are going to eat at my SIL’s house for Thanksgiving seeing family I haven’t seen in years. I told hubby already IF there is any heated debate or any harsh words exchanged I am leaving. I will not be subjected to toxicity any more. As for my family one brother out of 5 and 2 sisters I am in contact with. Again I will not be subject to toxicity. I do see them as trees. But I have to embrace them from a distance. No more will I allow control, hate, prejudice, mockery, lies, contempt, narrow-mindedness, fear into my life just because they are “family”. Good luck with your dinner. I leave you with this. Would it not be wonderful if we all were “free” to speak that which is natural to us yet without injury to another? The problem lies in that others perceive words to be something they were not meant to be. *sigh* Good luck! And Happy Thanksgiving!! 🦃

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for such a lovely comment. I apologize for taking so long to reply. I’m usually more on top of things. I love what you said about seeing family members “as trees” but embracing them from a distance. I think this is crucial. I’m gradually learning that boundaries are so important. I can love people but that doesn’t mean I have to spend long draining hours with them. I hope you had a nice holiday season. Thank you for reading, and I hope to connect more in the new year. ~ Viv

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  3. Pingback: Tree’s! | Healing Your Heart!

  4. Reblogged this on Grief Happens and commented:

    Happy Thanksgiving, my friends! Words can’t begin to express how much I appreciate all of my readers and this blogging community. Since the holidays are such a busy time, I’m going to reblog some of my old posts. I’m anticipating some joy and a little stress as we’re heading to Atlanta to gather with family. So many people; so many viewpoints and strong personalities. I needed this reminder today and thought you might, too. Stay safe and well!


  5. I too am known for attracting “oddballs”. My mom often jokes about it. I don’t even like to refer to them as such. I like to think like yourself I have a certain welcoming light that opens me up to a host of personalities. Besides wouldn’t the world be boring if we all were the same? But you’re right it’s easier with strangers. Funny I love to study people and learn their stories and what makes them tick, yet I can’t say I just love being around people. I think that’s the introvert in me. Anyways love this post. Trees!


    • Thanks! You absolutely have a “welcoming light,” and like yourself, the introvert in me doesn’t always love being in the midst of people. I think I enjoy sitting back and observing more than anything. Glad you liked this post, my dear!


    • I’ve already decided I need to do a followup on the specific trees in my life. You can imagine the holiday drama in my family if I’m already thinking about this sort of thing before Halloween.


  6. Thank you for this lovely post. I too, love trees and I find so much wisdom and peace in thinking of our journeys as though we are trees. We are made more beautiful through hardships that shape us and give us our unique qualities. I hadn’t though of specially turning my relatives into trees, but this is a great approach.

    Bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love trees and I love Ram Dass’ quote (as well as this blog!) and how you bring it all together in this post is insightful and fascinating. While I’d like to turn my relatives into trees this year, when the holidays hit
    I plan to boycott festivities except for my Mom.

    For complex reasons, I don’t feel safe around my husband’s relatives anymore. While I can’t tell my husband this (at least not yet, and again, for complex reasons….sigh) I’m going to take care of myself & stay away from toxic, triggering people. And if that means getting “sick” for the big days, I’ll be sick. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • Girl. I completely relate to everything you said. This will be one of my tools for the season, but it’s not even Halloween and I’m having anxiety about family gatherings. I’ve been boycotting various events for years and frankly, there are a few more I might add to the list. Taking care of ourselves is essential, and sometimes that means declining the invites. Peace. I’m just going to keep saying it. Family drama is toxic.

      Liked by 1 person

      • And here I thought you went to EVERYTHING! I really did, my sweet!

        Yesterday I stayed away from a family event (my husband’s family, who I no longer consider my family if truth be told) My cough hovered but I could have gone, and I chose not to attend and used my cough as the reason.

        And OMG – I was SO HAPPY I didn’t have to deal with them. I did happy dance. I thanked God! I just about thanked the Hare Krishna movement.

        I’m not going to feel guilty for skipping out.Normally I would feel bad but I don’t. I wish it wasn’t this way, but it is and it felt SO good to give myself permission to bail.

        These relatives didn’t lift a finger for years and years when I suffered during the 7 hospitalizations. Yet they had no problem accepting a $3000 car from us that we could have totally, legitimately kept for ourselves.(And I still owe a shitload of $ to hospitals even though the last time was 2013!)

        I know Pema and the Dalai Lama would frown at my inability to forgive, & my counselor wouldn’t approve either, but none of them walk in my shoes, ya know? That sounds so wimpy, but it’s true! :0000 XoXo thanks for letting me vent yet again here! Sorry for typos…..

        Liked by 1 person

      • Nope — I skip LOTS of events. Of course then I have to endure the guilt trips, but so be it. We try to keep our visits short and sweet, but that’s hard when everyone lives far away. I mean, most of these gatherings are 6+ hours of driving, so it could be worse, but it’s hard. One of my favorite quotes from the Brene Brown book, The Gifts of Imperfection is: “Compassionate people are boundaried people.” She goes on to say, “Research has taught me that if we really want to practice compassion, we have to start by setting boundaries and holding people accountable for their behavior.” — That part of her book was kind of revolutionary for me, especially after being accused by various ‘loved ones’ that I’m being uncaring and selfish for not letting my kids get to know their relatives. Okay…getting off soapbox. But in all honestly, I start having dreadful anxiety this time of year, and this is one of the reasons. I have to once again assert these sort of boundaries.


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