The Dreaded Family Christmas Letter
“My daughter was on the production team for Rogue One.”
“My son just graduated with his doctorate from Harvard!”
“My granddaughter is touring with Taylor Swift!”
“My father is about to be President of the United States.”
We receive them every year. Our basket overflows with Christmas cards and letters from family and friends across the country. I’m being sarcastic with my examples. Like our Facebook postings and Twitter feeds, we pick and choose the best things to share and the best ways to portray ourselves.
I enjoy hearing from my family and friends and catching up on their lives – exaggerated or not. But did you ever have a year when you just couldn’t write the letter? Let’s take it a step further. Did you ever have a year that you couldn’t even read the letters you receive?
Are you one who can’t write the letter this year? Perhaps you’re in the midst of a crisis. Perhaps you’ve dealt with a terminal illness, battled an addiction, walked through a divorce, buried a loved one or been heartbroken over a wayward child. It could be awkward; it could be inappropriate, but most likely you don’t even have it in you to muster the words. Too personal. Too private. Too painful.
Are you the one whose pain is so great you can’t even read the letters you receive? It’s OK. Unmet expectations and disappointments are magnified during the holidays. Even in a desire to be happy for others, our pain screams louder, demanding the most attention. A new friend of mine recommends that, in those times, one just simply folds the letter back up, place it in the basket and say, “God Bless You!”
Are you one who can write the letter this year? Perhaps you’ve met that special person, rejoiced over a new birth, celebrated a child’s graduation or achieved a personal milestone. It’s been a year of joy, and you want to share it, and you should! Thank God for a year of blessings.
I am reminded this year that I should be sensitive to both the families who write that Christmas letter and the families who can’t. They’re both there, and I have experienced both myself.
I am happy for those who can write freely, sharing their family’s experiences. I grieve for those who can’t write freely, who have struggled throughout the year. We should pray for and reach out to the family whose pain forces them to put aside the annual Christmas greetings.
Let’s follow Jesus’ example when he said, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn.”
Most importantly, God knows what’s on the letters of our hearts. He promises His presence, offers comfort in midst of the pain and hope for 2017.