As Michael notes, our holiday actions speak more ardently than our words. We tell our friends and family how much we love them, but we make it even clearer when we brave those crowds at the mall....All those people cramming the malls and clogging the freeways and jostling onto airplanes and enduring long lines so their kids can talk to Santa are doing so in order to bring a bit of happiness to others...Their actions are all driven by a desire to offer someone else a sign of their love or affection or gratitude.
On the other hand, holiday stress may cause us to act contrary to our motives. While we want to do something special for those we love, we groan at the thought of elbowing through crowds to buy gifts for them. Nerves fray. Patience fails. Emotional outbursts flare.
Just before Christmas, I overheard a woman criticizing her husband with venomous sarcasm because they had waited so long in a supermarket checkout lane. She stormed out in a fit of pique, her partner following meekly behind, and they abandoned a cart full of groceries selected for their holiday feast. Her actions contradicted her motives.
"Contradiction is character," says New Yorker columnist Adam Gopnik. Be mindful of such contradictions as you write. Complex persons (i.e., authentic ones) often do just the opposite of what they intend.
Joe Allison has been a member of the Indiana Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers since 2010. He lives in Anderson, IN. His non-fiction books include Setting Goals That Count and Swords and Whetstones.