Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Gift Of Family

(Email subscribers may need to go to my blog to see the first movie clip if it is not visible below)

Just in case you have not seen this movie, it is about a little boy named Kevin McCallister, who is the youngest child in a large family. His immediate and extended family members are all spending the night at his house, so they can all leave the next day to travel to Paris for the holidays.

His family was getting on his last nerve, to say the least. A house full of extended family, spouses and cousins is quite often a recipe for conflict, and this situation was no different.  At the height of his frustration, Kevin accidentally created a mess with the pizza and drinks, and was sent to the attic bedroom as punishment. In his anger and aggravation, he wished that he would never see his family again.

Through a series of mishaps and oversights the next morning, and due to the chaos of oversleeping and the looming possibility of missing their flights, his parents forgot that he was sleeping upstairs - and Kevin was left behind, and left home alone.

Kevin and his family lived in an upper income area, which was being targeted by thieves, so he spends the remainder of the movie trying to protect his home from burglary, and regretting that he had wished his family would disappear.

Some of the borderline violent tactics that Kevin uses to protect his home makes my stomach lurch a little bit, but in the end, this movie has a wonderful lesson about the importance of family. In fact, for anyone who has ever felt as if they could not stand their family for one more millisecond, much less another holiday, this movie becomes great food for thought.

Let's be honest matter how much we love our families, we would probably all have to admit to having at least one of those moments when we wished our family was different, or better, or like our friend's family, or maybe not around at all. Whether our families are blood relatives, or simply people that have become family by virtue of sharing life together, tensions and emotions can build over time, and nerves can get stepped on.

Just like Kevin, you may soon find yourself in the midst of chaotic holiday gatherings, secretly wishing that you were alone, and that everyone would "disappear". In fact, you may be dreading those pending family get-togethers already, for fear of feeling that way! 

With that in mind, let's play a "what if" game for a moment....

- what if there were no more gatherings with family or friends?
- what if you could never look forward to getting together again with people you shared life with?
- what if the house was completely quiet for the entire holiday season?
- what if you were expecting no visitors, and had no plans to visit anyone?
- what if your family really did disappear?

When we consider how we would feel if those "what if's" came true, it might help us to hold a different perspective about being with those we love.

Even though the thought of being alone in peace and quiet for the holidays might seem appealing on the surface, what would life be like if it were really void of family?  Would we run around the house in exuberant celebration like Kevin? Would it be all we imagined it to be? Would it be a time of joy and relief? Or....

Would our wish end up being something we quickly learned to regret? Would we long for what we once had, realizing how precious it really was? Would we wish we could go back in time, and treasure all those moments we once took for granted? Would we develop a new perspective about the value of family? Would we miss the people and circumstances who are in our life right now?

I think the most common answer would be a resounding yes. Certainly there may be exceptions, but the reality is that we often take people for granted, until they are gone.

In this movie, when Kevin first realizes that he really is all alone, and that his family really has disappeared, he is ecstatic! He has an awesome time jumping up and down on the bed, eating popcorn and rubbish, watching violent movies, and having the house all to himself - all the things his parents would never allow him to do.

But it does not take Kevin long to realize that loneliness, fear, despair, regrets and new wishes are filling his heart. Although a lot of things about his family made him frustrated and upset, he soon began to miss all the good things his family brought him, such as security, protection, companionship, affection, friendship and love.

He realizes that although his family was not perfect, he still needed them, wanted them and loved them... and most of all - he missed them.

Even though we see quite the opposite of a sweet, gentle, loving family in the movie (such as belligerent kids, sibling rivalry, the bullying brother, the nagging sister and the mean old uncle) there is genuine love for each other underneath all of that. And in the end - they miss Kevin too and regret not treating him kindly, or loving him like they should have.

As the movie progresses, and while Kevin's mother is desperately trying to get back home to him, Kevin learns a valuable lesson that we can tuck into our hearts for this Christmas, and all the holiday celebrations to come.

He learns that family can sometimes be a mess - but that mess is a precious gift from God.

Kevin thought he wanted his family gone - but when they were - his heart ached for them to return.

The Bible has much to say about the importance of families. God provides countless verses and stories about the value of the husband and wife relationship, the relationship between parents and children, and even relationships among extended family members.

His Word teaches us that the institution of family is of divine origin, and meaningful purpose. All these things lead us to the understanding that family is valuable in Gods eyes, and therefore it should be valuable in our eyes as well.

Family - with all their quirky ways, inadequacies, craziness, difficulties, habits, mistakes, faults, differences in personalities and perspectives on life - is a gift.

A gift that may seem a little crazy, off the wall, broken, chipped, cracked, dented, imperfect and slightly used - but a precious gift nonetheless, and one that can never be replaced.

Kevin teaches us, and the Bible reiterates to us, that family really is a gift that we should treasure, even when they are getting on our last and final nerve.

Hug the ones you love this Christmas season, and love the ones you are with.

(Bonus clip: I found this hilarious, and perfectly relevant short music video about Home Alone, and I just had to share it! Watch it below and enjoy.)

The Gift Of FamilySocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

1 comment: said...

Well said on such a touchy topic! It would be easy for any of us to 'wish' away family members instead of thanking God for the blessings they are. Perspective is everything!