The Season of Family

We are now into the holiday season — a joyful time for many, a difficult time for others.

This is the time when we are reminded that family matters most.

If you have family with whom to share the season, you are truly blessed.

If your life has taken you on a path where you have lost touch with family, the echo of emptiness rings loud and hollow in your life.

I am among the blessed. My holidays have only the burden of excess — too many family dinners, too much travel, too many gatherings with too many people. These are the complaints of a rich man who grouses because the gold he has to carry is too heavy. And I know that. Right below the surface is a gratitude so deep it cannot be plumbed.

To see the generations passing, with girls and boys I knew as children now young adults with children of their own; elders, once towering above me in size and accomplishment, now frail and bent, appreciative simply to be in the presence of young people and laughter and hope; young children running and squealing through unfamiliar rooms with cousins they barely know; and my generation, older, greyer, more appreciative of this fragile thing we call family, trying to play our role of holding the center together so we can pass it on to those coming behind us — these are the gifts of this season, and nothing could be more precious.

I hope that you, too, have the gift of family in your life. And I hope that you, too, do what you must to see past the small tensions and hurts and petty distances that all families carry somewhere in their collective hearts. For this is not the season to care about such things. This is the season to marvel at the magic of love and friendship, and to hold precious the fragile gift of those with whom you have been fortunate enough to share life’s passage.

This is the season to do the quiet, unseen act of kindness; to forgive the extra slight; to leave the harsh word or critical comment unspoken. This is the season to find the best in ourselves, and to measure our hearts against the vision of who we would like to be.

I hope you have begun the season well. The steps are stumbling, but the heart is pure. Do what you can to increase love in this world. It is our way, as individuals, to push this crazy, fumbling, beautiful planet forward. And it is the best gift we can offer to those squealing children who run, unmindful, through our family gatherings, binding us to the future with threads of possibility and hope.

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