Saturday, December 19, 2015

Imperfect Families Celebrating Christmas

There is a lot of pressure at the holidays to somehow replicate what is portrayed in a Norman Rockwell painting.   Or better yet, we feel the need to experience Christmas like the Depression era Walton family portrayed on television 40 years ago.  I am going to call of that what it truly is…It’s nonsense.  It’s not real life.

This week I am officiating at two funeral services.  One of my colleagues is officiating at another funeral service for a young man that took his own life.  Those families won’t be portrayed in any paintings.  They are hurting.  Their world is turned upside down.  The week of Christmas is a time to serve them in a spirit of compassion.

I have long time friends that are experiencing the pain of divorce this year. Christmas doesn’t sound so appealing to them. They are trying to assume some sense of normalcy for their children. Other friends will experience loneliness for a variety of reasons.  The week of Christmas is a time to reach out to them in a spirit of gentleness.

Christmas is supposed to be a time for families to gather.  But all of us are a part of imperfect families.  A father lives right around the corner, but never calls or sees his daughter.  When he invites her for Christmas, it feels  offensive.  Other families form internal alliances.  In the process, some family members become nothing more than a careless afterthought.  Only a select few that comprise the alliance make the holiday plans for everyone.  At the last minute, those outside the alliance are asked to join them.  No one wants to be an afterthought. It’s offensive.  Christmas is a time for close friends to step in and be “family” to those that don’t feel close to their so called blood relatives.

 And then some families are like mine.  Two of my sons live out of state and one my sisters does as well. And my cousins are all out of state too. We love being together, but Christmas is not the best time.  I feel sad when I think about my boys and my sisters this time of year.  And I would like nothing better than to see my cousins.  Christmas is a time to be extra sensitive to those that are adjusting to the realities of living in a mobile society.

I count it a privilege to serve the two families that lost loved one’s next week. And I will be alert to those that are missing their families due to geographical distance.  And how well do I know that we are all a part of imperfect families comprised of flawed human beings.  My prayer is that my shortcomings will not be hurtful to others.  May I always be inclusive, kind, and sensitive to everyone.   

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