“In this house, young lady, we never hold a grudge.” That’s my dad firmly reminding my 6-year-old self not to be mad at my mother.
It’s sixty years later, and I think about my family rule every single day. There’s always someone to be mad at. There’s always a hurtful experience to tempt me into holding a grudge. But I don’t do it though I’ve come close.
As a kid, I got into my share of trouble. My bicycle was my ticket out of the neighborhood. I’d travel miles on my lavender Schwinn with the white banana seat. There were no bike helmets in those days, no phones, and no tracking devices. Free-range freedom in an era when a call to the police from a nosy neighbor couldn’t get your parents arrested.
After one such adventure to the park, where I went cruising down a (very) sloped hill, I landed bruised and battered in a parking lot. A nice man brought me and my bike home, where he explained to my parents how he found me and told my parents “not to be mad at Susie. She’s just doing what kids do.”
He was preaching to the choir. My parents didn’t get mad about something like that. They rarely got angry at all. I remember a childhood with love and affection, caring and attention.
Although, my two brothers may have a different take.
Being the youngest and being a girl, I escaped the corporal punishment my brothers endured when they misbehaved. There were two levels to the consequences. The spanking and the belt. But true to the family creed, after the whoop-ass, my father would put his arm affectionately around the offender’s shoulder and say, “Let’s go downstairs and have dinner.” There were no grudges.
It’s a lovely way to live. You learn to forget about what ticked you off in the first place. It becomes a habit not to dwell on the negative. There are no blow-ups or blame to stew over. Just a shrug, and you move on.
And moving on is okay. No drama, just a “no thanks.”
My father cut off a lifelong friend who cheated my brother in business. That’s the closest thing we ever saw to my father holding a grudge.
When I asked him about it, he said, “I’m not mad at Jack. That’s his nature. I just won’t have anything more to do with someone who hurts my family.”
Not holding grudges is a value I have always tried to instill in my children. If I can honor the memory of my parents by not holding grudges, and if my children and grandchildren can do the same, the world will be a better place—a grudge-less world.
Think about trying it out. Become grudge free for the next 48 hours. Have patience with the quirks and foibles of the people in your life. Overlook the insult or the harsh word. Move on in kindness if need be, but never, ever hold onto a grudge.