Merry Christmas, everyone!
Having family with whom you live, or nearby, is a great grace. Another kind of grace is not having family nearby, in which case, if you’re lucky and your friends have especially generous hearts, you’re invited to be with, eat with, and participate with other people’s families. To enter in, while also remaining in some sense a stranger.
I find the best kind of people are the ones who are hungry to talk, to share, and hungry for someone to listen. That’s kind of your role in these kinds of situations. And I find if you can and do listen, beneath the entertaining, fascinating, sometimes horrifying details (though the person isn’t performing or consciously trying to tell a great story, the details come out, especially if you ask about them) is the voice of the human condition, the cry of the human heart.
Also, families often have children which, if you’re my age, are often your friends’ grandchildren. So that is another huge, strange gift.
I mention this because if you live a lot of your “real life” in your mind and heart, as I do, mingling socially, and entering into the life of a family that’s not your own, can be daunting and also–here, I reveal myself–seem like a “waste of time.”
Instead I find–I go away humbled, inspired, well-fed, with many interesting questions roiling around in my head, and most of all deeply, eternally, grateful.
That goes for whether I’m in the home of a Catholic friend that’s bedizened with prayer cards, icons, and Madonna candles, or a home that’s more or less secular.
Because if you can’t find Christ with a child in your midst–and the matter-of-factly self-sacrificing mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, and others who care for, support, nurture and love the child–you’re not going to find him anywhere.
“But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God.
And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.” John 1: 12-14.
May your Christmas season be filled with glory, grace, and truth.