The New Family Christmas
Each year that passes our family christmas evolves a little more. Mum’s partner (whom I adore) has been part of Christmas for many years now, but in recent years his children have become more part of the celebrations as well.
It’s a weird thing. It’s not as simple as adding another gift to the pile under the tree. It raises questions in me that are difficult to answer, and creates strange and conflicting emotions, that are difficult to contain.
It’s never as simple as the love that Mum and her partner share being the complete circle. In fact, that love is like a pebble being thrown into a lake, and the ripples slowly move out to envelop everyone.
The first ripple for me, were the photos of grandkids. Be careful in understanding here. I really like my de facto stepsisters, what little I know of them, and the kids are gorgeous. But it’s strange that the first photographs of grandkids to be displayed in Mum’s house, aren’t our kids.. my kids, or my nieces and nephews.
The second ripple bounces off the first.. because it reflects that the house that was once ours, changes by definition when it starts to belong to other people. See, I want with all my heart to be warm and embracing to the faily newcomers, but the cost seems high. My family home becomes filled with people and photographs of people that begin to belong to this house too.. but I don’t feel like they belong to me, or that I belong to them.
The third ripple is when we start to alter the family I’ve known all my life, to accomodate others sensitivities. This is where I start to chide myself on being selfish and proud. At the family Christmas tree decorating party, Mum put the family photos we had done away, so that said step-family wouldn’t feel left out. But inside I screamed.. I feel left out, of this new family. I battle this.. how to keep the original family sacred, whilst treasuring the new.
The fourth ripple does come down to gifts under the tree. With all my heart, I want to include and embrace this new family, but how do I give a gift to someone I barely know that is meaningful and not tacky, that doesn’t appear contrived or obligatory.
When all the desire in the world is to love, and yet love is painful and uncertain.. how do I do it?
How did Joseph love a son that wasn’t his, as if he was his own? How must Joseph have felt naming that child, in place of his real Father?
Help me God, to love this new family and to be fully part of it, to enjoy everything it has to offer and to make my own contributions to it. Help me not to be angry at what is lost, but to treasure what is gained. May something beautiful grow from the hard soil of my heart.