Christmas and the family tree

Don’t you just hate it when your family is a mess?  I’ve been trying to figure out what to do about Christmas for some of my family and none of them live anywhere near us.  Do I risk guessing at gifts and mail them?  (If so, I’d better hurry!) Do I just send gift cards?  Will I get to see any of them this Christmas, any of them at all?  What do I really want to give them? 

When I think of some of my extended family, my heart grows heavy.  Under my family tree there are a lot of packages full of trouble, issues of safety, issues of innocence lost, family members who aren’t sure they’re wanted by those they desperately want to want them. These are people I love very much and for whom I’d give anything to change the trajectory of their lives.  Yet I cannot; my hands are tied.  I’m doing all I am permitted to do and it isn’t enough.  It won’t be enough to even begin to fill the cavernous void within them, to bring significant light into their great darkness, to give the rise of hope when they’re sinking in despair.

This Christmas I especially want those I love to feel loved in return, to know safety in their own homes, to feel the warmth of a future of possibilities rather than the dim sinking feeling that they are trapped with no alternatives.  When my little foursome gathers in the candlelight of our home to share a festive meal and relish the joy of our home and family, I want the same kind-of experience for all those I love.  I want everyone to know, if even for a short time, the kind of relief and rest that comes to a soul who knows there is hope.  I’ve known what it is to live without hope, hope that things could be better, that things would be better, that I could be at peace within myself and with others.  But now that I know it is possible to have better, not by outward measurements but by the inner riches of one’s soul, I want that for everyone, most especially those I love.

This Christmas I won’t be able to give them all that I’d like to give them.  Would that there was a gift card we could send them that would credit their account with hope and life.  But I will bring what I have, my joy in them, my focused attention, my presence where possible and my hope-filled love for them.  I’ll pray to the God of miracles that He will have one for them, that He will launch them somehow onto a path that will break the cycles of pain in their lives.  And I will celebrate that it was exactly that thing my God desired for me, and for Terry, and worked in amazing ways to give us. He called us to follow Him yet even as we stumbled along behind Him, we had no idea that He was leading us to this place of relative wholeness. My prayer is that those I love would begin to haltingly put one foot before the other in that same direction, and that someday they will point others down the same path of goodness they themselves walked.

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About Tammy Feil

Happily married to Terry Feil since 1994, mother of two boys. My husband, Terry, is Pastor of Families and Students at Riverbluff Church in North Charleston, SC.
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