Posts Tagged ‘family’

Christmas is all about family. About celebrating together, about eating as much as will fit inside, about drinking a lot and about having fun together. Silly games are optional. You hear the stories of the harassed mother who has to cook for thirty on Christmas Day and then another twenty on Boxing Day, but the dishwasher is on the blink. You hear people complaining that they are just so busy as they travel around from pillar to post. But quite frankly, sometimes I just get a little jealous.

I love cooking and entertaining and having fun with friends, but Christmas is a family time. And so often it feels just like I don’t fit. Sometimes, even the events scream out “you need to have children” or those who have come by themselves have to move from the best seats with a view so that others who have come together can sit together. It’s fine. It’s a season for everyone, and yet, there is a lie right at the bottom of it. That lie says we are measured by who we’re with and what we can cook for them. That it isn’t Christmas if it isn’t fun.

Last night I watched a programme about Christmas No. 1 singles, and they started with a comment about Christmastime in post-war Britain. Apparently things were tough, and no one had any money, and it took music from the US to come and cheer things up a bit. That seems so distant now from the excesses we see all around us all the time today – even in times of great poverty and austerity.

Being with friends and family isn’t what makes Christmas. It is still Christmas when we’re lonely and on our own. When the family have fallen out and we’ve been dumped by another half. It’s still Christmas whether we’re rich or poor, young or old, ill or well, whoever and wherever we are.

Because Christmas is about God coming to earth, to live with his people and to be one of us. It’s about God taking a humungous risk in order to save us from the things we’ve done wrong. It’s about celebrating the incarnation of the Messiah, God’s special saving king, not about celebrating who we are and what we have and who we know.

That’s what’s going to keep me going through all the family services and the awkward dinner and the bad tv. That’s what I’m going to be celebrating this year.Ho Ho Ho

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I’m just going to put it out there straightaway. I hate Mothers’ Day. Even the apostrophe in it seems out to get you.

I’m sure it is a great time to celebrate families, and give mothers flowers and just show a little appreciation for the fact that someone did change your nappies and clear up your sick for a good few years, before dealing with everything else you decided to put them through.

But what if you don’t have a mother? Or if yours has failed to keep up to the gold standard that society seems to demand? What if you don’t want to show your appreciation, because, it seems that changing nappies was a small price for them to pay for the damage that you feel took place instead?

One of the first Mothering Sundays that I can remember was when I was 8 or 9 or so, and somehow I had manage to wake up and completely forget what day it was. I just remember that she treated me as a criminal for the rest of the day. Just because I hadn’t said Happy Mothers’ Day. I hadn’t properly forgotten, but just failed to realise the significance of the day. And let’s just say, I never forgot again.

Things with my Mum never really got much better than that. I was always in trouble for something, or had always just done something wrong. As I grew older, I just spent more and more time in my room to escape.

But then I became a Christian, and started going to church. And then suddenly I was part of a bigger family. It might be a family that fails sometimes, but they seem to be headed more in the right direction, by aiming to follow Jesus in all that they do. So rather than concentrating on the failure of a relationship which seems to create hurt whatever I do, I want to pay tribute to all the women who have “mothered” me in the Christian sense over the past few years.

First there was M. She was lovely, and had three kids of her own who were also lovely. She helped me to see the good parts in life, and helped me to cry about the bad things.

Then there was D. She helped me to recognise that we can move on from being in a mess to the life Jesus brings to us.

A helped me by simply understanding me. And allowing me to be the person I am, without criticism. She helped me to see how good a family could be, and taught me to relax and be less hard on myself. And promised me that there was always a bed for me if I needed it.

Then we had another A, who totally opened her home to me, and told me that I was always welcome.

L offered me some of the best advice around, helping me to address the problems I have.

J allowed me to be a broken person, reminding me that God loves me still even when I mess things up. And helping me to win the battles deep inside of me, encouraging me to want to get better.

So, thank you God for putting these women in my path over the last few years. I’m so grateful to all of them, and would gladly take any for my mother. It is amazing how we can become family to one another, and I pray that one day, I might be able to help someone else just as these ladies have helped me.