Friday, December 23, 2011

A Christmas Shout out to Families

It's never the good ones that make the news.

When we are kids, holidays are for making memories, but when we grow up, holidays are for celebrating those memories. The trouble is that we don't always have good memories to celebrate. For many people, old hurts are remembered, old feuds revived, and decades of irritation and frustration simmer just beneath the surface, waiting for an offhanded criticism or a snarky comment to break through your tenuous grip on cordiality.

But it seems that functioning families don't get as much press as they ought. The truth is that I not only love my family, I love spending time with them.

That’s not to say we didn’t have challenges growing up. We had too many kids and not enough money, time, space, etc. We never broke the federal poverty level growing up; at one point all five kids shared a room in a single-wide trailer. We didn't go on family vacations to Disneyland or Hawaii; we went on 12-hour road trips to my grandma's house in our red Astro-van.

My parents did not follow the books, they didn't even consider reading the books. Neither of them came from perfect families, and both will be the first to tell you they had no idea what they were doing when they started making babies in 1979. But we survived. More than that, we came out one of the strongest families that I know.

I don’t really know how my parents did that. I actually only know three things that my parents always did right:
  1. They both absolutely and wholeheartedly loved Jesus
  2. They both absolutely and wholeheartedly loved each other
  3. They both absolutely and wholeheartedly loved us
If that seems too simple, take a minute to consider what it means to love someone wholeheartedly. It’s anything but simple.

We've grown from seven to seventeen and still manage to cram into less than 2,000 square feet every Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and dozens of Sunday afternoons in between. Even after 26 years, I can tell you absolutely that there is still no one else in the world I would rather spend a day with, including Christmas

I don’t say this to flaunt my merry Christmas; understand that, if your family memories are tainted by hurt, abuse, betrayal, divorce, abandonment, or disappointment, I have the utmost compassion for you. I say this to tell you that circumstances don’t have to determine the fate of your Christmas-yet-to-comes. There’s nothing that says you can’t raise a family that enjoys each other.  My hope is that, this year, you find a little piece of ground, even just a square foot of real estate, where you can start building something new.


  1. This is what I hope to build for my own girls. Kevin has this in his family, even though his parents are divorced and remarried - they can still all manage to get together and get along.

    My family is another story. My parents are divorced and can't stand the sight of eachother. My own brother, my only sibling, wants nothing to do with me.

    Thankfully, I grew up in a strong, wonderful family. And even though it's disintegrated and become something new, I have wonderful memories of the 4 of us.

    Merry Christmas!

  2. Thanks Jill, I'm glad you have some good memories to hang onto. I'm sorry that you aren't still able to share those times together, but I'll be praying that God makes it possible in the future.

    In the meantime, it's awesome what you're building for your own girls.

    Hope your Christmas was awesome.