Tis the season to be getting your family’s photo taken for your Christmas cards this year! It’s never as easy as we hope or imagine. In our family someone was always unhappy about it. My daughter-in-law told me one year she and her husband, my son, were having a big argument as the photographer arrived and they had to act all happy and loving!
Because I know you too can relate I’ve written a prayer about our family experience and what I’ve learned about my Savior.
Hope my words speak to your heart.
Christmas Card Photos
It’s a lovely tradition
going back decades of years
my grandfather in his properly starched uniform
a black-and-white photo printed “Merry Christmas”
sent home from India
during the war.
Our first Christmas
we sent a photo, the two of us,
me wrapped in a bright orange coat, my husband in ’70s plaid
bundled against beautiful Boulder snow.
This tradition repeated annually
over forty plus years
to share our family with yours
to show how we’ve all grown
to wish you and yours hope and happiness.
Patience, time, repeated “Say cheese,”
parental bribing, threats,
eventually a smiling,
even perfectly peaceful image emerges.
Never displayed on the photos we send,
the arguments, ’tudes, gritted teeth,
our collective ugly brokenness—
Though I hoped and prayed my family would all love each other
like our photos portray,
offenses have been suffered
creating discomfort among siblings
and more pain than I imagined for us parents.
I understand the lyrics penned by Longfellow,
“‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said;
‘For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!’”
Nothing hurts like family hurt.
Wounded lambs, wandering sheep
Chicks who refused to be gathered
Pain piercing a parent’s heart.
Little disagreements, big misunderstandings
become seeds of distance, discomfort when children grow up.
Family geography widens as these now young adults
choose their own values, careers, finances,
parenting styles, school choices,
We are not alone.
Every grown-up family I know suffers
depressions, woundedness, pride,
failure to forgive
holding on to hurts
the ideal of siblings as adult best friends
an uncommon reality.
Dysfunctional relationships the norm
not the exception in the body of Christ.
God’s children, His family,
all sinners, all broken, all imperfect yet saved by grace,
connected by blood and adoption.
Even the perfect Parent does not have perfect kids;
all of us have rebelled, gone astray.
And so our family mirrors His.
Even biblically grounded moms and dads
cannot avoid damaging, can’t perfectly protect.
No family is
devoid of brokenness, pain, heartache;
our ever-present sin nature both unites and divides us.
announced on Christmas morn,
born a sacrifice for Eden’s shattered mirrors,
only You can transform hearts
restore all that sin has stolen.
This Christmas season, O God,
bring revival to my heart,
for it is in me
where change must begin.
My goal must always be Your glory and fame
not a Christmas photo to be admired.
One day our smiling faces will be authentic
perfectly reflecting the joy we now pretend too often
“Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
‘God is not dead nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.’”
Come quickly, Lord Jesus.
 “Christmas Bells,” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1863.
 Longfellow, “Christmas Bells.”