While the holidays may bring out your family's dysfunction, many have intact families. I want to encourage them to excel this season. I was part of the dysfunction. My mom’s third marriage and my dad’s fourth marriage brought me into the world. My dad’s mom and dad gave him up to an orphanage, and my mom’s family…, let’s say, were far from God. All my family gatherings were adult parties with lots of drinking and smoking. I hated them both. Christmas and Thanksgiving were times to get drunk and stay there for some time. As an only child, I got plenty of presents under the Christmas tree, but I usually played alone because there were no children my age or children around after the various divorces. I understand a level of dysfunction.
I truly am sorry to those for whom this sounds all too familiar and who have even worse memories. I pray for you to have a functional family of your own that operates in the joy and love this season brings. I am not sure how I got here except for Jesus, but I have been enjoying these holiday seasons without wanting to hide or leave for all my married life. You do not have to be a victim of your family’s dysfunction or carry on the sociological DNA that you were given. Jesus can change it. He did it in me. If Jesus can do it for me, He will do it for you. Do not settle for a holiday season of drama.
That being said, some have minor dysfunction in their family. Some, like me now, have children who have moved all over the US and Bahamas! But I still have three of eight here, and I look forward to being with them as much as possible. I use this season as just another excuse to get together. To throw a ball with a grandson, to watch a game with a son or daughter, and cook my famous turkey. This is not the season to be so busy at church or wherever that you forget how important your family is to you. I am not asking people to give up feeding the poor or acting in the Christmas play. I am proposing that your family will be there long after anything else you may pour yourself into, so why not give them the time and energy they deserve and need?
I love buying presents, but with 21 grandchildren, 8 children, and 7 inlaws, I would have to rob a bank to give them all something substantial for their lives. It isn’t the value of the gift. It is the value of thought. It is all the little things you do and say and the time spent enjoying each other. We buy gifts to speak love. That means our gifts may not be the biggest hit of the morning, but they know we didn’t forget about them. The Facetime calls, the hugs, and the genuine longing for the ones you can’t celebrate with have more impact than you know. As in all of life, those things communicate love and value that bring connection. The question is, what will you do to bring a deeper connection with every member of your family during this season?
This will be the first Christmas morning in which we have no family at our house. It seems wrong. So what will we do? Go to their house, watch them open all those presents, and rejoice with them. To connect with family, you have to engage with them. Although I would love for all my kids to bring their families home for Christmas, it is doubtful it will ever happen. So we have to make the adjustment. It is our joy to do so. What will you sacrifice for your family this year during the Christmas season?
So, have some fun this season. Be intentional about the time and energy you put into your children and spouse. They need you to demonstrate what joy, enjoyment, love, and connection looks like. Think of something fun. Google fun things to do with your family for Christmas. Go see some lights. I know you are saving all kinds of shopping time because you bought online, so use that time for your family. At the end of your life, you will NEVER say, “I wish I didn’t spend so much time with my family.”