Christmas Stories: Day 3
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My Cousins, My Other Parts
We all have favorite parts of the season. For some, it’s putting up the Christmas tree. Others, it’s the music, wrapping gifts, and decorating the house. There’s also the truth of hearing about the birth of Jesus Christ-the songs, the plays, the lighting of candles-all in celebration of one of the best gifts ever bestowed upon us. I enjoy and look forward to all these things every year.
My favorite parts of the season though, are my cousins. We’re all in our early twenties and thirties now-aunts, uncles, parents. This group-this crazy, rambunctious, loud-talking-over-each-other, joke-playing, argument-having, will-tell-you-the-truth-even-if-it-hurts group, are the reason I look forward to the holidays.
Before I had friends, I had my cousins. They made fun of me, laughed with me, spoke up and fought for me; accepted me for all my quirks and unique weirdness; encouraged and fought with me and my brothers. And let me tell you, they are something to experience. I’ve always said that any person who is blessed enough to date or marry one of us must have a thick skin and be loud enough to be heard. Or be confident in their silence.
Our clan is an overwhelming force. Christmas 2011 was the best I’ve had to date. With the exception of maybe 1 or 2 of us, we were all together for the first time in over 3 years. It felt like no time had passed at all. The laughter was nonstop, a newbie fiancée was introduced to us-like a sheep being thrown in with the wolves-by our cousin Aaron; the food, the over-abundance of random conversations…
My heart over-flowing with the joy and peace God speaks about giving to us on a daily basis. This is what Christmas looks like to me. My cousins. My brothers. All different shades and personalities, but we fit. Nothing, it seemed, could tear us apart.
New Year’s Eve 2012, we lost one of our own to gun violence. My cousin Aaron was 26. The pain, the shock, the disbelief of hearing this news from his brother-the memory of it-still lives with me today.
I am reminded of the story of Lazarus, when Jesus, having arrived after 4 days and being told more than once that Lazarus is dead says, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.”
Then later in the story, he is led to where Lazarus was being kept, but before going inside, “When Jesus saw [Mary] weeping and the Jews who had come along with her weeping, he was deeply moved in the spirit and troubled… Jesus wept… ‘See how he loved him!’” (John 11:25-26, 33, 35-36) Such a beautiful picture. Our Jesus, weeping for his beloved and celebrating His love for Lazarus-for us-at the same time with His tears. I celebrate each holiday knowing that none of us ever truly die. We live and breathe within each other’s hearts and in every memory. I love my cousins. I love my family. They are my story.
“All anyone needs to know about me is “Writing is how I live; Music is how I breathe; Silence is how I sleep; Prayer is how I heal; God is how I exist…”