I didn’t have the textbook childhood, nor what I thought was the typical family. Christmases were spent playing drinking games and sneaking off to bars, instead of family dinners and time spent in prayer.
Do real families do that? I just imagine lots of prayer around a big rectangular wood table… but I could be making that up. Maybe that’s not how it is at all. Maybe the centerpieces, apron-wearing-mothers, and soft classic Christmas music playing from the corner is the product of all the years I spent imagining the perfect family.
When I was little, we still did the whole extended family Christmas thing. Cousins running around everywhere, uncles arguing politics in-between drunken slurs, aunts and family friends claiming to need to “run errands” after whispering about meeting up at the local dive bar.
Even though I had no idea about Jesus back then, I remember thinking that there has to be more to life than this. THIS! Is really all we were living for?
Then, as I got older, and family feuds got larger, we stopped going back to Nebraska for a big family Christmas. Instead, it was just my dad and I. Often, surrounded by other people who had nowhere to go on Christmas. Those were fun Christmases—lots of traditions came out of those. But they were never focused on God or what I would call God glorifying. Still lots of drinking and focusing on what presents were under the tree.
But, even then I would have a faint tickle of imaging what it would be like to have brothers and sisters, and parents that weren’t divorced—a loud bustling Christmas instead of the quiet one with just us.
It was then that I started to negotiate in my own head.
Instead of prayer around a table, maybe people just had thankful hearts towards God. Maybe, the apron-wearing-mother would be overwhelmed and burn something. Maybe, the kids would be running around and screaming over the Christmas music. Maybe, tree ornaments would break and babies would be crying and messes would be made.
I could deal with all of that. I would love all of that.
Then, this year, my dad’s work schedule came out. He flew out Christmas day. My already quiet Christmas just got a whole lot quieter. It was going to be Hallmark movies, my Saint Bernard Yogi, and me.
It was then, that one of the couples that I babysit for invited me over to their house for Christmas. And, I’m not talking about a passing pity offer (believe me, I’ve gotten those enough in my lifetime). A genuine in person invite, followed up by a phone call and a Facebook message.
It was then that I realized that I was wanted—that I could maybe dip my toe into the “real” family Christmas. Knowing this family, there would be crying, and kicking and screaming, and messes and at times just a loud roar of Children, but they wanted me to experience that with them.
I had a place to go. A place that would be to celebrate the birth of Jesus, which is really all that truly matters.
So, I urge you to look around in your own life. Look for those back-alley-dog type people, who have nowhere to go. Offer them a sincere invite into your crazy, messy, slightly dysfunctional family, and it will mean more to them than you ever know.
Can't do it for Christmas? That's fine. Family dinners work to. Or coffee. Or lunch. Really a sincere invite is all that counts.
People yield their lives to Jesus for so many reasons. Forgiveness, His Constant-ness, His plan and so on. But, sometimes, it’s because for the first time in their lives they’re unconditionally wanted.
You can reflect that. You can make someone feel wanted. Invite them into your mess.
Jacque is a college student in Denver, CO who balances her time between trying to go to class and learning about His saving grace and perfect love as much as she can. She is a twenty something, DIY attempting, Jesus loving, Denver living, small town rooted, Colorado sports fan. She loves black coffee, long conversations and watching people do what God created them for. You can find her on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
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