As a child growing up, I remember so many wonderful holiday traditions, such as talking to my cousins on the phone the week before Thanksgiving and Christmas. The purposes of these calls were to compare what our moms were cooking on these special days. Full of anticipation, it was exciting naming all the pies, cakes and dishes we would soon be enjoying.
Because my cousins and I were from the south, most of the time our moms were cooking the same traditional southern holiday dishes–turkey and dressing, macaroni and cheese, sweet potato, yams, green beans, peach cobbler, etc. But every year, usually one of us had the pleasure of proudly naming an item that the other’s mom wasn’t cooking. Although we were excited for the other’s bounty, when you named an item that was not on the other’s list, you knew you were this year’s unspoken contest winner. We usually started our cooking the day before the holiday and traditionally, there was always one more call to make to each other—the call while you were helping your mom in the kitchen cooking. The purpose of this call was to brag about whose mom was finishing her meal the quickest.
Although we have all become adults with our own families, we still continue to make these same holiday phone calls to each other—but now, our children are in the kitchen helping us. My two daughters have caught on to our tradition; they make the same holiday calls to their cousins. This is such a wonderful holiday memory for me.
As you get older, you tend to value things such as family traditions and fond memories even more. But the truth and reality of life is that interacting with family, day in and day out, does not always leave fond memories. When a person, a couple, or a family has allowed unresolved conflicts to remain unresolved all year long, putting your feet under a holiday table with those who are the source of these not so fond memories can be a dread.
This year I had the pleasure of turning 50 years old. But turning 50 for some, like holiday gatherings, can also be a dread. But not for me—I consider both blessings. You see, my brother was killed many years ago in an automobile accident at the age of 35. He didn’t live to see 50. He loved to cook for the holidays, but he is not one of the calls that I can make and ask him, “What’s on your holiday menu?” And if there was any conflict that was unresolved between us, it can’t be fixed at this point.
Because life is so short, as I have matured (naturally as well as spiritually), I have learned who and what things are even more important in life than family traditions, such as knowing God and His love. And the evidence of knowing Him is loving family unconditionally—in spite of the drama, stubbornness, dysfunction and imperfections that we all bring to our holiday tables. “By this shall men know that ye are my disciples, if you have love one to another" (John 13:35 KJV).
Although you may dread going to your holiday dinners because of unresolved conflicts, it is a blessing to be able to gather with our “imperfect families” and give God thanks for allowing us all another year to “get it right” or restore what is still broken. So go ahead, choose to lay those “imperfect ways” aside and enjoy your holiday gatherings. “A man’s wisdom gives him patience, it is to his glory to overlook an offense (Proverbs 19:11 NIV).” This upcoming year may be the year that restoration may come for you and yours, but will you cooperate with what God wants to do?
Father, please grace me to attend all my holiday gatherings with a spirit of thanksgiving and hope for healing in my broken family relationships. Remind me to display the needed fruit of Your spirit at these gatherings, such as longsuffering and patience. Please forgive me for lack of faith that any change will come to these relationships. In this coming New Year, help me to be an agent for You to use to bring about this change. Also, give me the courage to initiate and/or participate in reconciling any broken relationship(s). And thank you for another opportunity to do so. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Although many years have passed since my brother’s passing, I still miss my brother and think of him around the holidays. Thankfully, God has healed my broken heart from this tragic loss, and His grace has truly been sufficient for me (especially on those random days that I miss him dearly). But I still remember how difficult it was spending my first holiday without him.This year, many have lost loved ones. They will be attending their first holiday gatherings without them. Please remember to pray for them. And if it is you who are reading this that has experienced losing a loved one, either this year or any other year, the same grace and perfecting of His strength is available to you too.
Please feel free to leave a prayer request for yourself or someone else who is struggling through this holiday season in the comment section below.
Here is a list of scriptures that have comforted me during my time of lost through physical death or loss in a broken relationship: Psalm 23:4, Psalm 55:22; Isaiah 41:10, Matthew 5:4.
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Tuesday, 20 December 2011 14:19
posted by Jonathan Green
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