Family resemblances and the joy of Christmas

One day of the year over the Christmas holiday, our children and grandchildren are our prisoners for the entire day.

We lure them in with lights on the house, a wreath on the door, gifts under the tree, mugs of hot chocolate and wonderful aromas emanating from the kitchen. Once we get them all inside, we bolt the door.

They couldn’t escape if they wanted. Coats and jackets piled on the hall tree spill onto the floor beside mittens and gloves, puffy snowsuits, wet boots and bulging diaper bags, creating a virtual barricade to the front door.

If there were ever an emergency, we’d all have to bail out through the windows.

My favorite part of the day is “after”— after the gifts, after the meal, after the last piece of pecan pie has disappeared, after the last blast of aerosol whipped cream has been shot into a kid’s mouth, after the kitchen has been returned to some semblance of order and after the dishwasher begins to hum.

The energy wanes, the commotion quiets and a lull descends. A game of checkers unfolds on the rug. One of our sons-in-law falls asleep on the couch and the other often naps in a wingback chair. I like that. It tells me they feel at home.

During this brief pause I can watch and study the grands, noting growth and changes and see family resemblances.

A little one is on her daddy’s lap reading him a book. They have the same eyes. A toddler curls next to her momma on the sofa. Their skin and hair color differ, but she is the same spitfire her momma was at that age.

Three of the kids have double-jointed toes just like their dad. Our gatherings are highbrow.

Our son loved building when he was a boy and his sons are carbon copies. His youngest built a Lego contraption that will hold four drink cups and can be wheeled down the center of the table at mealtime.

The resemblances between parents and children are a wonder to observe as we lounge about in the aftermath of the holiday. Even more wondrous is the resemblance between another father and son that is the very heart and soul of Christmas.

In the deep of night, long ago, there was another lull, one of a most holy sort. A baby boy was born to peasants in a manger stall. The birth of Christ is celebrated because the son bore far more than a resemblance to his heavenly father—he was the exact representation of the father, a mirror image of heart, intention and purpose.

The healing hands of Christ worked the will of the Father. His teachings and commands spoke the words of the Father, and his anguished death demonstrated the love of the Father.

That is the true wonder of Christmas, worthy of reflection.

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