In the first place it’s not true that people improve as you know them better: they don’t. That’s why one should only have acquaintances and never make friends. An acquaintance shows you only the best of himself, he’s considerate and polite, he conceals his defects behind a mask of social convention; but we grow so intimate with him that he throws the mask aside, get to know him so well that he doesn’t trouble any longer to pretend; then you’ll discover a being of such meanness, of such trivial nature, of such weakness, of such corruption, that you’d be aghast if you didn’t realize that that was his nature and it was just as stupid to condemn him as to condemn the wolf because he ravens or the cobra because he strikes.
W. Somerset Maugham, from Christmas Holiday
I guess I never really understood why Vincent van Gogh chopped off his ear until I found out he did it on December 23rd – two days before Christmas. Seems he was living with his old buddy Gauguin, and the two of them had been getting on pretty well until the holidays approached. Tensions rose and van Gogh (who was a bit of a drama queen anyway) threatened his friend with a knife – finally cutting off his own ear. Now I know it was just because he could no longer stand the sound of the man’s voice!
Holidays can bring out the worst of us. Stress is high and goodwill toward men is a challenge in the mall parking lot. Unfortunately, many times we are actually kinder to strangers than the ones we love most dearly. As we’re getting closer to Christmas day, take a moment to ask God for an extra measure of grace, and then give it away. That’s the gift your loved ones need today.
Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.