“You can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family. ”
What struck me about the homily was what a negative connotation I have about family sometimes! The commitment, the burden and the obligations week after week. Many many years back I remember this exact thought “Oh man, I’m stuck with this family. I wish I could choose my family. This mom would be nice, that brother would be great, this grandfather would be a good fit for me!” And somehow only this day of the Holy Family do I realize how terrible a thought that was. ):
Family is a gift. I have never liked the idea of returning gifts (especially during Christmas) because it becomes very much about what I want, what I think I need, and history has shown that I do not. Gifts, no matter how seemingly useless, are given with the best best best intentions and that to me is the true gift – love.
If I could choose my family I would never have learnt obedience. An obedience where I have to put the needs of others and the interests of the larger community before my own.
If I could choose my family I would not have learnt accountability. I would just go wherever I wanted and make decisions without consequence. Feeling that freedom, yet isolation at the same time.
I always thought it was somewhat valid that if different people in the family have varying interests, it’s just not sensible to spend time together doing something that you all don’t want to do. Like in Father B’s homily, a family holiday where the adults go shopping and the kids go to a theme park. But something in a video struck me, about how tensions are not only commonplace but really quite necessary in the concept of family.
We try to equalize what men and women are, we try to find that harmonious oasis in this place we call home but really there is a reason why we are different, why we don’t always agree, why there is always that family we don’t see much anymore because of conflict. It is reason to love, it is a call to love, it is our vocation.
So this Christmas has been a little strange in terms of theme. Experiencing a Christmas mass spent talking about miscarriages and hope, the next 2 days celebrating the feast of saints who died in the ‘gentlest’ of ways, a wedding and catch-up over the weekend to celebrate the joy of commitment and the feast of the holy family to round it up. And I feel like God has more mini gifts up his sleeves.
So thank God for family and this gift that teaches me how to love more. and more.
*Oh and going back to the famous saying at the start, I also don’t think I can really choose community or the person I would start a family with, or anyone really. :X It’s gifts gifts everywhere!