This morning we visited my grandmother in the nursing home. She had a stroke several years ago. We had to waker her up when we arrived, so she wasn't very responsive. But at one point Anders started singing "Away in A Manger," and she began mouthing the words right away and joined in on the last few lines of the song. That was worth the whole trip.
We traveled up to Okoboji this afternoon. My parents get us rooms at a hotel with an indoor waterpark as their Christmas present to us all. It's partly because there isn't room in their house for us all anymore. But it's also to take time to be together as a family and enjoy the time without rushing off to the next family event.
In many ways, family is what this season is about. I know we don't all necessarily have healthy relationships within our families, and mine isn't perfect, but I'm thankful that we enjoy getting together. But aside from our biological families, God invites us to become His children, to be adopted into His family (which, admittedly has some dysfunction at times, but we are promised a day when we will be made perfect). I am grateful for "brothers and sisters" who are just as close as biological family.
Christ was born into a human family. He had human parents, brothers and sisters and presumably extended family. He also said that we can't put our family before God (using fairly harsh words). He also invited others into His family. He spent time with them. He loved them. He showed them how to love.
Advent is a great time to show love to your family (hint: presents aren't necessarily the best way to do this). It's also a great time to extend your family to brothers and sisters who need some extra love this season. I pray that your holidays (holy days) won't be filled with stress and dysfunction because of family, but that you may find enjoyment with people you love (no matter what their biological relationship with you is).