Christmas at my house growing up was certainly not the Hallmark Special fairy tale idealized in Christmas cards and Toys R Us commercials. It was often more like National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, but with less Christmas lights and more drinking. However, my hectic, weird, funny, loving family came together to celebrate the season. We came together to celebrate our hectic, weird, funny, loving selves. We came together to give thanks for one another, to share joy and gifts, and - yes - a few stinging insults or angry tirades, but we came together. Being together for the holiday season was more important than past disagreements, more important than sibling rivalries or cynicism or who forgot whose birthday and who is at fault for this or that traumatic childhood event. Looking back now, I can see that the wonderful and the crazy - the joyfulness and the angry tears - are all a part of what makes my family "my family". It's who we are, and it has made me who I am today.
Many of the families with whom we work at Children First may not be able to come together this holiday season. They have been separated by abuse, neglect, substance abuse, divorce, homelessness... They, like my family, are not Hallmark Special fairy tales. . Every family has joys and successes, as well as some hurt and some failures. My family had the chance to come together and celebrate the joy and acknowledge the hurt. The families with whom we work may not have this opportunity.
My hopes and prayers are with these families this season. May they find a way to celebrate the joys and successes, acknowledge the hurt, and begin to heal. May they come to accept the wonderful, amazing parts of their family as well as the sad. May they find that, though our families make us who we are, we are all bigger than the past. We are all capable of love and hope.
We are all broken. May the holiday season make from our pieces a work of art.