Well, Lord, it's the morning after. The party's over for many people. The gifts are opened. The turkey and the ham have been devoured. The trash has been taken out. The clearance sales are on. For many of my neighbors Christmas is over. Time to start thinking about next year.
I want to stretch it out a little longer, Lord. Our son and his family won't be here until Thursday night. Friday we'll gather around the tree as a family and enjoy opening gifts together. The house will be very noisy this weekend. A good kind of noise. Siblings playing and bickering, laughter, DVDs, D. wrestling in the floor with the kids, pots and pans clanging in the kitchen. The house will be a mess for a few days. It will be wonderful!
Thank you for the noisiness and the messiness of their visit. Oh, how I wish I could stretch it out a lot longer, Lord. Keep them close by me a lot longer, Lord. But I can't. They all have to go back to their lives in the next neighborhood or across the country. I dread watching their vehicles back out of our driveway at the end of each visit.
I know we can't be together physically very often. I think I've finally come to peace with that. But, Lord, please keep us close together emotionally and spiritually as a family. Help us to face our differences with love. Help us to trust each other with our hearts. Help us to forgive our offenses quickly and easily. Help us to reach out to each other when we need help. And help us to respond to each other's needs graciously all year long.
Christmas isn't really the tree, the lights, and the gifts. It's the reason behind those things - Christ. In the same way family isn't just the times of celebration. Family is the reason behind those celebrations. Family is this invisible net of golden threads that connects your hearts across the miles. So many families are broken, fractured, and dangling by one little thread. Keep your net mended. Don't let even one thread break. Love unconditionally, forgive quickly, care deeply, share willingly and liberally, be honest but kind, serve one another - even the broken members of your family.
Maybe that should be one of your priorities for the new year. Mending nets is an important part of being a Christian, you know.