The blessings of Christmas are many, but one particular delight is gathering as a family. Some of my earliest and fondest memories are family reunions. It wasn’t always fun: I can’t count how many times I was pinched on the cheek. And, despite my best adolescent avoidance techniques, I could expect to be stood, back to back, with my younger cousin, to see how much taller he had gotten than me. He’s now about 6’2″.
I remember Grandma in the kitchen, serving, making sure that everyone else was served first. Granddad would tell stories, often repeated but always fun. He would remind us of the value of family and tell us about that very first Christmas.
There were always the long goodbyes; I’d have to wait in the car for everyone to finish their hugs. Certain folks could be expected to bring the same foods every year, and some would tell the same jokes. Even as a kid, I remember thinking that I must be missing something because some of those jokes just didn’t make sense.
There was that uncle who could musically play the saw. Another whom I wasn’t sure knew how to tie his own shoes. Folks coming from out of town seemed to carry such a carload such that it looked like they were moving. Yet, the ones who lived the closest always showed up last.
Mostly, I remember the laughter and the smiles and the sense of belonging. I learned to love family.
I still love reunions; they’re like a big, social hug. Things are different though. You can sense the minor issues between family members. You pay attention to who is and who isn’t there. Now, I understand the long goodbyes and the pit in my stomach watching family drive away. I’m reminded of the tremendous privilege of sharing and passing along family traditions and memories of those who have gone before us.
The more reunions I attend, the more I truly look forward to the great, forever reunion described in Revelation 7:9, ”
… I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” Sometimes, it seems I can hardly wait for that day.
On that day, we’ll be joined by many, many others. Some that have been home for years; others that are to follow. We’ll see ancestors whose stories are seared into memory. Unborn siblings and grandchildren will be fully mature. We’ll get to meet brothers and sisters in Christ from across time and from distant places; some who stood boldly in the face of persecution; others who gently, and without public acclaim, walked faithfully with the Lord.
At that reunion, we’ll always know who’s hosting. At that reunion, everyone will be on time. At that reunion, we’ll have eternity to share stories and work and fellowship together. At that reunion, all things will be right.
Then, we’ll see Jesus face to face. Then, we’ll understand belonging. Then, there’ll be no more long goodbyes.
Yes, truly a Christmas family reunion awaits those who are in Christ. Forever, in our Father’s house.
Oh, and, I’m pretty sure that we’ll still have chocolate covered cherries, but we won’t have to worry about who’s bringing them.