December 30, 2018
“My precious family is more than an heirloom to me….”
~Amy Grant, Heirlooms”
Christmas day has come and gone and I’m sure with it numerous family gatherings, but as we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family this weekend, the words from the song Heirlooms come to mind. I’m sure some of our gatherings have been wonderful; and some are painful reminders of what should or could have been. This year we have been able to linger in the family celebrations of Christmas. It began for us on December 22nd and will continue through January 20th.
I began preparing for Christmas the week after Thanksgiving. I dug out my totes of Christmas decorations and began the tradition of decorating my home for Christmas. This ritual task becomes a walk down memory lane for me. It’s almost as if my decorations speak to me, giving me the ability to remember the memories and feelings that attach. As I place each ornament on the tree I am able to reminisce and say aloud the names of the people of whom I’ve received this trinket of love. “Our first Christmas together” ornament is a precious reminder of the years that have passed and how through the years, our love has grown and matured, blessing us and our lives and filling this tree with many wonderful memories. I’m reminded of all the people who have come in and out of our lives. Our tree is adorned with ornaments created in love by the hands of our girls, nieces and nephews, grandparents who are no longer with us, and loved ones who have touched our lives. All of the “baby’s first Christmas” ornaments are melancholy reminders of the births of our own children and how in the blink of an eye those little ones are now mothers or mothers in waiting to their own children. This tree also reminds us of those who are also no longer with us. I remember vividly how four years ago in this season of Christmas of being called by a social worker with the news that the little girl I had placed for adoption 30 plus years ago had requested to learn of her birth origin and would result in us meeting.
This decorating ritual has become so very precious to me. It’s a loving and bitter-sweet reminder of the family I belong to; the family that formed and continues to form me. As we gathered this year with both my side and my husband’s side of the family we happily took our places in the origin of where we began.
The feast of the Holy Family is a time to stop and recall your own nativity story and to embrace the “holy family” that we have been born into. It is a time of recalling our own “journey” remembering the people, places and situations that helped to form us. Jesus’ birth was anything but ideal, we know the story, but it is bound in faith and love. It is adorned with the “yes” of a young mom who accepted that which God placed before her and trusting that God would be with her in it. It is strengthened by a man named Joseph who risks believing, even when everything around him makes it easier not to believe and trust. The conditions of this holy birth remind us that not everything is going to be ideal; just as it might be with our own families. But we can experience the love that this little baby boy brought to the world over 2000 years ago when we extend our arms to embrace the joy, the pain and the imperfections of our own “holy families
So on the weekend of this feast of family, embrace your own “nativity” and ask the Holy Family to strengthen your family in the bond of love and faith in 2019.
Merry Christmas and Joy and Peace Always!