Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Home For Christmas

Family portrait drawn and given to me by several of the children.  The animals
are all plays on nicknames or favorite animals: Baby Groot, dragon, skunk, baby
shark, pigeon, giraffe, monkey.

Real life family portrait on Christmas Eve, in almost the same order, except that
Monkey is in front of me rather than at the far right and Pigeon is in front of MrsD

We had no visitors, but our house was full this Christmas. This has been striking me the last few holidays: We no longer feel like a small, satellite family staying home from the ancestral gathering with the larger family. We're starting to feel a lot more like the ancestral gathering itself. The older girls (the Big Three at 16, 15, and 12 this year) can be called in to tackle adult tasks in the kitchen and elsewhere, but if left to themselves they drift off to do their own activities. The youngest, at 18 months, is still of an age where he has to be watched, lest he pour someone else's drink on the floor or smash things with the wonderful toy sword someone left lying around, but it's starting to feel more like an older family with a few young kids knocking around than the reverse.

It's chaotic and takes some management. We didn't have dinner until around 7:00pm, and the cake for our Christmas baby turning five wasn't until nine. As we put it together I realized I'd failed to buy birthday candles. At nine o'clock on Christmas, that's a call for creativity rather than a quick dash to the store.

But all these, as I have often to remind myself, are still within the context of a very good time. Yet another golden year. When the one year old can't be calmed because he's cutting multiple molars at once, I have to remind myself to this, because it would be foolish to be ungrateful at a time like this.

These times are not earned. They are not guaranteed. I find myself looking back at the happy Christmases of my own youth. There is no revisiting the ancestral home of my youth. Not all broken families are broken by choice or moral failing. Some are broken by the relentless intervention of outside forces. Cancer broke ours. And it broke it as thoroughly as any other means. We survivors gather, but without that key missing piece -- Dad -- even though we all love each other the connections seem not to work like they used to. Where Dad used to be at the center of every conversation, now silence looms.

So I look around at our happy, healthy family and give thanks, knowing that there is no knowing how long it is given to us. Perhaps a year or two. Perhaps long decades stretching out before us.

This rift, the sundering seas that divide us, whether that divide comes from the brokenness of our lives or the brokenness of our world, is why Christ came to us today, a tiny baby born into obscurity and placed in a manger, a baby born into a world whose turbulence and cruelty is familiar enough around the world today. Christ came to triumph over death, and offer to us the promise that there is beyond this world a healed one, where the grey rain-curtain is rolled back, and we shall behold beyond a far green country under a swift sunrise. We are not meant to feel torn in two, but solid and whole, and we will be.

In the mean time, we have the promise of the Christ Child, and of Christ died and risen from the dead. We have, as this Christmas season reminds us, hope.

A merry and blessed Christmas to all you.


Sherwood said...

I hope you frame both those beautiful family portraits!

DMinor said...

Beautiful family, beautiful pictures. Merry Christmas Darwins!

Darwin said...



I'm heading out today to figure out how to get the drawn one framed. As you can see from the cell phone shot, it doesn't lie perfectly flat, so I'm thinking I may need to have it put between glass or something.

Sherwood said...

Glass is a great idea--it will protect the colors over time.

Julia said...

I really like this, with its balance of was and is and is to come.