Weekly Sabbath Survey
Family — 11-26-2016
The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is reputed to be the most traveled day of our year. By air, land and (maybe) sea, people do everything in their power to GET HOME. Starting with Thanksgiving, ‘the holidays’ include Hannukah and Christmas. It’s a time for memories and old feelings to come up. Some find it depressing. We remember bad things from the past, and those who will be absent from the festivities and meals around the big table. For Christians, our memories can be ‘scrubbed’ by the Lord God so that we can have the hurtful things filtered out, and enjoy the good memories. It involves opening our hearts to give up our disappointments, grudges, resentments, judgments, and most of all unforgiveness. Even when the offending party is a not-so-dearly departed. It makes no sense to have negative emotions for dead people! If we get rid of the negativity, we can appreciate/strengthen the good that remains.
“Family” is people in the bond of love. It doesn’t necessarily have to be blood kin. A few weeks ago, my oldest son and I attended the funeral of a friend. The two families met 40 years ago at a Christian summer camp when our children ranged in age from 6 to 16 years old. This couple were each an only child, no siblings. The second year at camp, we made plans for them to come from the Houston area to Del Rio, Texas for Thanksgiving with my family and my sister’s family. For 12 or 13 years they came 375 miles to be with us. Our kids grew up, went to college or the military. The Thanksgiving trips stopped, but we remained friends. Standing there at the grave of my old friend, he was family. His widow, his kids and grandkids were family.
Thursday, Tony and I spent Thanksgiving with my (deceased) first husband’s sister and her family: her husband, their two sons and wives, and six beautiful grandchildren. They were family. Tony and I were embraced with a precious hospitality and love that only family can give. The weather was crisp but nice enough and their farm a great location for lawn games and the kids riding three-wheelers. There was chattering and clattering in the kitchen, female laughter, wonderful aromas that brought good memories. The ladies served a traditional meal at a beautifully set table. The guys fried a turkey. There were pies, green Jello salad, cornbread dressing and Texas Sweet Tea. It was as perfect day. And . . . it was family.
When our hearts and homes are opened with the love of God, we have family wherever we are with the people who are there with us. It might not happen every year. Many of us divide time between widely separated locations. So, we must make the best of special times when they come, and make ordinary times special when we gather with others. We must thank God whether it’s a holiday or just an ordinary football and pizza day with people we love. We thank God for His goodness, and that Jesus made us a part of His family.
The true spoiler can be ‘the in-law thing.’ If we let it. If our hearts are open, we will consider our spouse’s feelings about his/her own family when making the decision “where.” One spouse may always give in to keep the other happy. But there may still be a painful longing to have a turn at ‘going home’. More times than not, it is the wife’s family that comes out on the best end of this deal. There’s a saying that sums it up well: A son is a son ’til he takes a wife. A daughter’s a daughter all of her life. It isn’t fair, it just IS. Those couples with no daughters must learn to take what time they get. It does no good to be bitter, angry or depressed. I try to be happy that my kids and grandkids are happy. I have spent a few holidays alone with my dogs, and I survived!!
I remember one particular Christmas that I regard as one of the best I ever had. Both boys were with in-laws, my sister/niece family went on a cruise, my dearest friends that took me in several times were in Houston with cousins. It was a very cold Christmas Day, more like a Christmas card than we usually get down here just North of the border. I had a fire going and a hot cupper in my hand. My Boxer dogs and I stood at the glass patio door watching the sleet come down, feeling the cold coming through the glass. I thanked God that I was safe and warm and had a most loyal friend standing on either side of me. A tear slid down my cheek as I realized I was about as content, happy, and stress-free as I had ever been in my life.
In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thess. 5:18
Charlene Reams Manning, Believer in the Lord Jesus Messiah
Copyright November 2016
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