We recently put up our Christmas tree and I couldn’t help but notice that not all the lights on the tree glow the same. Some are bright and radiant. Some blink off and on. Others—meek and silent—are barely noticeable.
In many ways the lights of a Christmas tree are like the different moments of our life. Some moments flicker by and become lost to history. Others, radiant with color, mark our lives forever.
Christmas is one of these moments. It is majestic and powerful. It is one of the brightest lights on the tree of our life.
Consider this: are not some of our most treasured memories from Christmas? Can you think of your childhood without reliving the excitement shared with your parents, siblings, and relatives on Christmas morning? It’s impossible: as impossible as trying to imagine Christmas without a tree.
So why does Christmas and family go together so well? I would like to offer one simple reflection.
Christmas is the celebration of a birth and because a family begins with the coming of a child, it is a celebration of the family itself.
What joy we feel when we hear that good news: it’s a boy! It’s a girl! It is like a current of electricity running through the family. Everyone rejoices. We get the baby room ready. We get presents. We look for that perfect name.
A similar joy is felt at Christmas. Here, however, the child in the crib is God’s Son. Because of this the celebration is elevated to a different level and the family is elevated with it. Gathered around the manger we intuit something about the inherent dignity of the family.
We note, for example, that God cares for us. He chose not to remain distant, far from our anxieties and worries. Rather he did the opposite. His love for us was so great he become small. His power so tremendous he made himself vulnerable, coming to us as a defenseless child. His goodness so pure he gave up his divine splendor and come down to a stable.
In that humble child in the manger we can reach out and touch God’s goodness.
So what does this tell us about family?
It tells us how important it is for members of a family to care for each other. As God, out of love, turned towards us—not remaining distant but drawing close to us—we too learn how important it is to draw close to those we love. A family does this when its members spend time together, have fun together, celebrate together, suffer together, worship together, and pray together.
This Christmas let us remember what is most important and thank God for the gift of life, of family, and of God’s presence in our lives.