Saturday, January 5, 2013

Balancing our Families within Christmas Cards

Christmas Cards are a delicate balance, aren't they?
Recently I read a wonderful blog post about Christmas cards...what we expect, what they show, what they don't show, and what we see. I wanted to link it here but, amongst other things, I can't find it. When I do I'll come back and share the link. It was worth sharing. It was about a mother who never did Christmas cards because they were a perceived false illusion. Of course Christmas cards don't tell or share the whole story, much less the whole year.
Then they discovered their oldest son was dying and that Christmas--their last Christmas with him--they took a family Christmas picture to share with family and friends.
What followed were years and more Christmas snapshots with other babies, yet void that oldest son.
The mother wrote about it and shared how they handled it and she found peace with those stereotypical Christmas cards.
With my own family, it has been simple enough.
Round up all five children.
Preferably in front of the Christmas tree.
Take a dozen shots or so.
Have them printed.
Select the best of the dozen plus.
Print Christmas cards.
Then they began to date.
Still no problem.
Then they grew up.
Amazingly fast.
Life go busy.
Amazingly busy.
Some years there was no Christmas picture much less a Christmas card.
Like last year (2011).
We're defective that way.
Then two got engaged.
No problem that first year.
Some years were just a kaleidoscope of faces.
I prematurely worried about faces coming and going.
I saw families within my family who are not the families they were five--ten--twenty years ago.
Who is family?
I've heard of passionately cut-up Christmas cards.
I don't want people sliced out of Christmas cards.
Those things move me to think things, weigh things, analyze things, more than needed.
My Catholic faith demands that I consider the definition.
My Catholic faith demands that I consider the hearts behind the definition.
Who do we blend into our Christmas cards?
Who do we include if their last name is not Gibson?
Who is family and who is not?
Where's the division line?
Christmas cards are a delicate balance, are they not?
This past Christmas...
One was married.
One was engaged.
One had a baby. Unmarried.
"Sometimes our children just get things a little backwards," a dear friend consoled me. "God will work out the details better than we can."
Not perfect.
Yet perfect.
This year I've come to peace with our Christmas cards.
Whoever is in our lives that year shares a spot on our card.
There is no rhythm, rhyme, or reason because, in God's eyes, there is no division.
I will not live wondering who will be present in that moment, in that space, in future Christmas cards.
Like that mother who lost her son, I cherish each person in this year's Christmas card.
I hope and pray they are there in next year's Christmas card.
Today is all we have.
Today is what is present.
It's who we are.
One married.
One engaged.
One with a baby. Unmarried.
Not perfect.
And yet...
We're ALL in it.
That's what makes it perfectly awesome! 
Perfectly Us!
It's all a wonderfully messed up balance.
There's no rhythm, rhyme, or reason.
It's just...We're just...all part of God's plan.
God's Beautiful Plan.
God's Perfect Plan.
God's Amazing Plan.
Better than any plan I'll ever make.


  1. Such a beautiful post, Ms. Cay. I love your viewpoint...I never considered that aspect of Christmas cards, how easily "being cut out" can happen. What a beautiful decision and a beautiful, wonderful family you have. Perfect and imperfect. Just the way it's suppose to be.

  2. I felt that we had to send cards this year. We had surprise twins with our two oldest being adults in their own rights. I have a family shot and then a recent one of the twins saying that they were born in May. This does not even begin to tell the story of the surprise, my illness with this pregnancy, and how ill the twins were at birth. They look perfect now (and they are) but my point is that there is no way the picture could tell the entire story, yet it does. If only to God who sees the joy in all of our eyes and our hearts then we have captured it all.


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