It occurred to me this past weekend that Christmas is about celebrating common bonds with family. You know me, I am always making connections in my head, so as I sat around at mom’s this weekend I was watching and listening. I was thinking how different we have all become. I mean my siblings and I grew up in the same house, and had basically the same experiences and yet, we are so different. We have different interests, different careers and different passions. God gave them to us, by the way. The grandkids are even more varied and I bet this is true in most households. During the course of the year we go about our diverse lives working, playing and being ourselves. Then, for a few days at Christmas, we all merge together for family traditions.
So why is it that for many families Christmas is the most difficult time of the year? In some households it can be stressful because of the differences in values, opinions, and viewpoints. Family secrets are buried just under the surface and tensions run high. Everyone knows what NOT to talk about to avoid the land mines of emotion. Past hurts are avoided. Tip-toeing around on egg shells is common and the weather is a big topic of conversations. I think though, that we have it all wrong when we allow these things to get under our skin. I am not saying that it is easy to forget them, but I do believe that we are missing the point.
Traditions by definition are things we do over and over again in the same way each year. We have them so that we can remember how we are ALIKE. In a family we all have the same blood running through our veins. We celebrate the values we share as a family. Usually there is a matriarch or patriarch that sets the tone of the time together but there are cousins, aunts and uncles as well as other various family members. Think of all of the individuals and their unique perspectives…every family has a crazy uncle or a black sheep cousin. It is our independence that gets in the way of making these times enjoyable. We want things to be comfortable, but we are unwilling to put down the expectations we carry. However, IF we celebrate our common bond, things become easier. We can allow our opinions to set on the shelf for a few hours and truly enjoy the distinctiveness of our family because we all were put together by God. For reasons only He knows God put you with the family you came from. You are who you are because of the way you were shaped and influenced by them. Christmas is a time to celebrate that and be grateful for the many blessings that come from belonging. Deep down in every heart there is a desire to belong. We search for it our whole lives. Our first experience with it is within our families, and even as different as we are, we still belong to one another. I think God created imperfect families so that we would realize how desperately we need to belong to him. At Christmas he gave us the way to belong, and the reason for the season in Jesus. But he also gave us the family with which we celebrate this gift and a heart that shares a common bond that he designed especially for us. Enjoy your family and have a Merry Christmas.