Increasingly in our society, more experienced parents are faced with the possibility of a Christmas without their adult children and their offspring to celebrate Christ’s birth through traditions that come from ancient times. Some will face them entirely without kin due to deaths, divorces and other separations through military activities, job locations or other separations. Some will have one or more to celebrate the day, others will have the joy of a celebration Charles Dickens might write about and Norman Rockwell would immortalize. This year my wife and I are celebrating the birth of Christ in a new way, but nonetheless, time-honored and true to the season of joy that Christmas represents.
Some families have a prodigal son who has not yet realized the extent of his/her separation from the reality of God’s love. The divide may be as stark as the biblical parable, which makes a common celebration of the reason for the season difficult at best. Some families have geographical separation that makes it difficult to gather on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day due to the difficulty of travel arrangements and winter logistic preparations that diminish the possibility of togetherness. Some families have conflicting Christmas plans due to multiple family allegiances, making the season difficult emotionally when time and space require a single choice between multiple options. In these cases, there is the possibility of extending family Christmas celebrations to days ahead or after the traditional Christmas day of celebration. Others long to have these choices given the reality of the loss of loved ones through circumstances tragic or otherwise.
We have all of these factors playing in our family that my wife and I started nearly 35 years ago with our marriage vows that remain stronger than ever. We will celebrate this Christmas together on Christmas day with all of the above situations in play, rejoicing together that we are part of a family that will one day celebrate a reunion that will continue for eternity. We will pray God’s providence and mercy for the prodigals, share the joy of the season via other means with ones distantly located, juggle days and times to accommodate schedules for ones that have other allegiances, and remember with grace and compassion those who have experienced much worse during this season.
I am reminded of a TV special that became a tradition for many in America guided by the late cartoonist Charles Schultz. The history of how it almost never was as remembered by columnist Don Surber is worth reading at this time, while contemplating the relevant words from the soliloquy that Linus so wonderfully recited from the book of Luke in Charlie Brown’s Christmas special: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord”.
Merry Christmas to all those who long for His second appearing, and also to those who still have not yet experienced His goodness and mercy in sending us His Son many years ago to redeem us from our blindness and errors!