Christmas Means Family

Each day this month I will be answering one question from these December Journal Prompts.

Day 25: What does Christmas mean to you?

A few days ago, I wrote about some truly magical Christmas memories from my childhood. In that post I shared that, to me, Christmas means family. In fact, every childhood memory that I hold in my heart centers around family, because in my upbringing, family was immensely important and fiercely cherished.

Both of my parents came from large Mennonite families. Dad had 10 siblings and mom had 13. And guess what? They all loved spending time together. But when you consider the complexities of gathering up that many adult siblings and all their kids, it makes sense that we only had an “official” family gathering once or twice a year. One of those times was at Christmas, and cherished memories from these Christmas gatherings (from both sides of the family) will always remain tucked away in a special place in my heart.

As I look back on them now, I realize that those times were about more than just Christmas ham, or exchanging gifts, or exploring Grandma’s house or old church buildings with my cousins, or singing Christmas songs all together in beautiful harmony. Those moments were foundational. They gave me a picture of what family was intended to be. And not only that, but they pointed to an even bigger story—a true story about a family that God has been weaving together since the beginning of time.

You see, all of us were always meant to be a part of God’s family. When he created the world all those years ago, he established a family that each and every person born throughout history could belong to. But what we have to remember is that God didn’t set up a system where anyone would be forced, or manipulated, or coerced into loving him or being a part of this family. He gave each of us a choice.

And right from the get-go, the very first additions to God’s family rebelled against him. When Eve allowed herself to be led astray and chose to disobey God’s instructions, sin drove a massive wedge into the perfect family that God had designed. Now, this didn’t mean that God stopped loving his kids, but it introduced some family drama that would create distance and separation until the situation could be rectified.

Fortunately, God had a plan. It wasn’t going to be easy, and it wasn’t going to be pretty. But He was willing to do whatever it took to restore the broken family ties. And that’s where Christmas comes in!

We celebrate Christmas in remembrance of the birth of Jesus, God’s Son—the Savior he sent to redeem the world and restore his family. What could be a more joyous occasion than one which marks the birth of the true rescuer who came to blot out sin and put all things to right?! What could be more meaningful than a time of year that represents the lengths God was willing to go to in order to heal and protect the family he loves?!

This is the story that we celebrated at our Christmas gatherings all those years ago. And this is the true family that my earthly family demonstrated to me in such a profound and beautiful way. A massive family that is always accepting new members. A family that is forever committed to each other, despite the personal costs. And a family that is built upon the foundation of outrageous grace, unending support, and unconditional love.

This is what Christmas means to me. Christmas means family.

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