Christmas is Family Time

Posted on December 27, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Down Home in Mississippi

Even though Christmas is a religious holiday, getting together with family takes pre-eminence. Many churches canceled worship on Christmas Day knowing members would be scattered far and wide to gather with family. Stories have been written and movies produced about estranged and dysfunctional families gathering for the holidays. Thatʼs certainly not the case with ours as we relish this rare occasion to celebrate our Lordʼs birth together.

20111227-092857.jpgI can remember as a child bundling up in the car and driving to North Mississippi every year to spend Christmas at Grandmotherʼs house. Countless cousins would sleep on pallets as close to the coal fireplace as possible while aunts and uncles enjoyed the warmth of feather beds. The abundance of food was comparable to any buffet found in modern-day restaurants. I was always worried that Santa would not find me so far from home, but there would always be a mountain of presents under the tree Christmas morning.

Once we had our own family, it took skillful manipulation to balance holidays with each of our parents and siblings. During furloughs it had to be decided who got Christmas Eve and where we would be for Christmas dinner. Once our own kids were grown and overseas, we found that spending Christmas alone was a real bummer. There was some consolation in gathering with other empty-nester friends in the same dilemma, but we decided it was worth the effort, no matter the expense or how long the drive, to be with our children and grandchildren.

20111227-091532.jpgWith our daughter and her family overseas, Christmas with Russell and his family near Nashville was a delightful time. It is hard to believe how they mature from year to year, which in itself presents a challenge for buying gifts–toys and another pair of new pajamas no longer seems to be appropriate. It seems it was just a few years ago when our first grandchild, Zachary (pictured with Bobbye) was born. Now he is a 6-foot-tall 16-year-old!

Although our togetherness was lacking a significant segment of the family, a skype call from Central Asia Christmas morning made the connection complete. Russellʼs family has followed a pattern of doing something in the way of ministry to others, so Christmas Eve we joined with friends from their church and accompanied them to a nearby rehab center where we expressed love to the residents and Angela shared a Christmas devotional.

20111227-093432.jpgMy best Christmas present was a burner and pots for deep frying to go along with the grill I enjoy using. So we had to break it in with my first experience of deep frying a turkey heavily injected with cajun seasoning. The taste and juicy texture was incredible, and fortunately we succeeded without starting a grass fire or burning the house down!

Our visit was shortened due to a commitment I had made to speak at a Korean mission rally of several thousand younger-generation Koreans in Rochester, New York this week. I wondered what I was thinking enroute to the airport as I noted the temperature was 18 degrees, high was to be 28, and it was snowing!

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