Ellen Griswold: “Clark, I think it would be best for everybody if they all just went home…before things get any worse.”
Clark Griswold: “WORSE?! How can things get any worse?! Take a look around you, Ellen! We’re at the threshold of Hell!!”
-National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Thanksgiving is over…just like that! And in the rush of it all did I truly give thanks? I finally have a chance to sit back and breathe, contemplating what happened this holiday. I filled up on buttery mashed potatoes, warm rolls, and delicious pumpkin pie…multiple times..and I relaxed with family and friends. To wrap it all up I went Black Friday shopping, making new memories with my best friend Abby. Though as fun as it is, Thanksgiving truly is about giving thanks.
I could’ve had a totally different time this holiday, certain family members could have been missing from the table, money could have been tighter than it is leaving our tables bare, and I could have stayed home and slept in, missing out on Friday deals, or more importantly, time with my dear friend. Part of not taking things for granted is recognizing how blessed we truly are. Understanding that we could have been born anywhere, at any time, and yet we were placed here, surrounded by friends and family that God thought best for us to have. He makes no mistakes.
For some, Thanksgiving can be tense or depressing. Sometimes getting the family all together is a nightmare that leads to arguments and brawls. How can God be so sure about this fit? Is this mismatch of people really made to get along? I believe they are. Problems go farther than simple differences in personality. For example, a question like, ” Jon, when are you going to get a girlfriend?” Though spoken in jest, can cause a defensive reaction. Surrounded by the family, Jon may feel pressure at being called out as the only one of age who isn’t married. He will take the “joke” as a stab. The question brought something more pressing to the surface, feelings of inadequacy at not living up to the family’s expectations. Self-esteem, acceptance, and worth can be brought up in an instant. The mood changes as does the conversation topic and a more guarded Jon suddenly wants to be alone.
Every family has these moments and every family sometimes feels mismatched. Lock yourself in a room with your greatest friends for a week and you will discover that everyone is mismatched to some degree. We are all unique individuals after all, though tied together by commonalities and bonds we are still distinctly different. Look at Jesus’s disciples. They were like his earthly family, his closest friends. Thomas doubted, Judas was greedy, Peter was often quick to react, Matthew was like the black sheep of the bunch, having been a tax collector when the others were fishermen. It seemed like a dysfunctional mix, but Jesus saw something in them all that they did not. Something that made them brothers. They longed for something more.
Though they may have had moments that would’ve turned Clark Griswold’s head, they all shared something that united them….Jesus. Without him, you never would have seen these 12 men together all slouched around a table passing around bread and wine. The disciples would have never held out their hands to Matthew, but because Jesus did, they looked past their differences and accepted the new addition. Was it easy? No, I’m sure Matthew had to earn their trust and respect, just as they had to with each other. But with Jesus as the cornerstone, their family worked.
Today, many families don’t have that cornerstone to unite them. Satan has reeked havoc in the minds and hearts of families, tearing them apart and uprooting the next generation along with them. Children are witnessing “dysfunctional families” more than they witness “unbreakable” ones. But this isn’t a surprise. Society as a whole is discarding faith in Jesus and belief in the Holy Spirit. Though I’ve said it before, it remains the truth, a war is taking place and we are a part of it whether we like it or not. We choose a side even as we indecisively watch. There’s no fence, no middle ground, no lukewarm. There is only belief in Jesus, or not.
My closest family are Christian. I can’t say that fixes things…it doesn’t make things easy, and I am reminded every holiday how uniquely different we all are. Everyone comes together, we cram into a small house, laughing and grumbling and talking about many topics…and then it comes time to pray, we all stop and are one. One voice calling out to one Savior, thanking Him for every minute of this crazy thing called life. I’m thankful for that above all else, that man who died for me and taught me what family is all about.
“Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned, family Christmas.”