As the years have passed, the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays have become more important to me, yet our family celebrations have changed, too. My sons are 22 and 25 (tomorrow), live in other cities and can’t always make it to family gatherings. I’m not the only one who misses them, either. Two of my brothers’ children live in other states and though they all just visited (yay!), it had been several years since. We always miss them. My youngest brother’s sons are 12 and eight now; I know how the years zoom and sooner than any of us would like, they may be living in other cities, too. When my mom, siblings and I leave this life, we’re taking a whole lot of love-memories with us.
There are many other American families who gather to mark the end of each year, to express gratitude and, for Christians, to acknowledge the birth of the Lord of Light. (I wish we remembered him as he was, a man of love and peace, not who some of us make him out to be, a man who separates people and inspires us to war.) There are many people of other faiths who also celebrate their spiritual heritage around this time of year and who wants to celebrate alone? Having family is truly a gift, even if we think a relative made a wrong career or partner choice, or they’re a little wacky, or their political views are too far to the right or the left. Being a member of a loving group of people makes life’s hardships tolerable. We could all use a dose or two of tolerance.
When I was a young adult, I grew close to a circle of friends and we often gathered to enjoy each other’s company. Friends can become like family; in fact, for some people, their friends are their family. These are soul-families and the connection can be as great as that of family bloodlines. I loved when Hillary Clinton said it takes a village to raise a child. The more our children are exposed to other people and philosophies, the more they will grow into well-rounded people, which is necessary for a good quality of life. Walking a narrow corridor as a life-philosophy, especially alone, can be disappointing or even bleak. With no one to talk with, we may start talking to ourselves—and not in the funny way. ‘Tis the season to welcome in, to join hands, to give love to one another. Whatever your faith, or if you’ve chosen none, you can spread kindness seeds wherever you are. Enjoy the Spirit of the holidays.