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|Home for the Holidays||12/18/2003|
Ask someone, "What does Christmas mean to you?" and you will receive many answers. To some, it's a sacred celebration of their Savior's birth; to others, it's about giving and receiving gifts; to yet another, it's simply a break from the typical work or school routine; to a few, it's a time of depression and sadness.
But ask anyone to give you three or four things consistently a part of their Christmas and you will undoubtedly hear one word over and over: family.
Family is perhaps the most important part of Christmas in many people's minds because when you strip away all of the surface things in our lives -- hobbies, pastimes, activities -- and even go beyond the more serious aspects of our lives -- school, work, church -- you get down to the most basic, most critical part of our lives. For most people, that is the family.
When God created mankind, he completed man by giving him woman. He then instructed them to "be fruitful and multiply." Here, at the very conception of civilization itself, we see God's design for a family. Everyone on the face of the earth has an inborn desire to be part of a family. We were created to be relational beings. In a functional family, we find a sense of belonging and purpose. Children find a place to safely explore and develop their own intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual dimensions. The family is intended to be a place of unconditional love and acceptance.
Of course, far too many people find themselves in dysfunctional families. Pain, abuse, selfishness and other negative forces have replaced love and acceptance. Yet, almost every year we return to the family seeking to remember and reinforce the positive aspects of our family experiences. We are drawn together, even if it means facing the pain of our past. Why do we do this? Because families are the cornerstone of our lives. Individually and collectively, families are intended to make us strong as people and as a nation.
Michael Novak wrote, "If things go well with the family, life is worth living; when the family falters, life falls apart."
So as we sing Christmas carols, exchange gifts with friends, and take a few days off to rest and relax, let's not forget the family. Whether it's an endeavor of remembrance or restoration, this Christmas can be a truly special holiday if our families can come together and return to that place of unconditional love.