A terrible blow to families and psychology happened in the 1980’s when the word “dysfunctional” became vogue when applied to families. Lots of books sold and lots of talks, especially in our family on how we became this word. Every other family presumably was normal except the five of us kids with our two parents. I regret to this day when I smugly told my mother about all this dysfunctional language. She looked bewildered.
Television again doesn’t imitate art, but rather influences and often distorts us. We fall for it. As adults, the five of us kids realized that there was nothing dysfunctional about our family. Our lives, assembled by mom and dad, formed what our family turned out to be. Nothing wrong or good about it, it was our family with all its quirks and qualms, some unique and others not, that any family can admit. In my family, my parents were not Ward and June Cleaver. Our mom didn’t own a pair of pearls, and if she did, she wouldn’t have vacuumed wearing them.
We honor the “Holy Family” each year and even kneel before them in their holiness. Those historical characters that comprise the great backdrop in our salvation history story created a family circle for our savior. Quirky and qualms? Just listen on…
Test Your “Holy Family” Assortment of Family & Friends
A crazy cousin who dresses weird and eats even weirder
A pregnant, unwed young girl who looks great in blue
A silent-type husband-to-be who wants to get rid of the pregnant young girl and move on
An old married lady who discovers she’s with child and, if that’s not enough, the kid keeps “leaping” in her womb; presumably with “joy”
Angels who are flying around making grand announcements that no one understands but always prefaces them with “Do not be afraid,” as though that helps
A mute uncle who has lots to say but is unable to say them
A government official who wants you dead before you’ve even bor
An old lady who prays all day and hopes she doesn’t die before seeing you
Shepherds are heard yelling at midnight in the fields something that sounds like “G-l-o-r-i-a,” before it became a 1960’s hit 45-record
Just in case you think you’re family is beyond the norm of normal, here is the divine intervention playbill. They are John, Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, Multitudes of angels, Zechariah, Herod, Anna, among the shepherds is Sam Shepherd, Cybil Shepherd, and Alan Shepherd.
Now picture all these people around a Christmas dinner table, carrying on and trying to share opinions, thoughts or words (except in the case of the mute uncle.) Driving back to Milwaukee from our Kenosha family Christmas, my sister and I rehashed the evening’s conversations. The nine of us ended the evening with a heated discussion about the distinctions between atheism and agnostics, and which one is with whom; since I’m the only practicing Catholic. In the car, are two superior people analyzing relatives with whom we shared a wonderful meal and will repeat it again at the next family gathering.
Our grandmother always told us Manitowoc kids, “Why aren’t you Jagodensky kids more like the Schroeder’s,” our cousins who lived in Green Bay, formerly Preble. She rarely saw our cousins, so naturally, they must be more normal than the dysfunctional us.
The family is a part of the wonder of the Christmas season. We feel sorry for those alone. The awe of this season is what each Biblical character contributes to the story of our salvation history – what each character in your family provides to make it a family. To leave out any of these characters, whether in the Bible or your family, is to miss important elements of the dramatic story of God breaking into history. And, it is all accomplished through these un-dysfunctional but normal people; and it all leads to welcoming the newest member of the family, Jesus Christ.