Another reason that I love Christmas is that it’s a time when family bonds are strengthened and new bonds are made. Several years ago I started hanging stockings specifically to build visual evidence of belonging.
My parents have seven children. My family doubled in size one year when I gained four siblings all at once! This is a long story that isn’t all mine to tell, so I’ll keep it for now. But as my family continues to grow in size and variety, the need for a strong sense of belonging becomes more and more evident.
As each of us brings home a spouse, a new heart with unique needs and fears becomes part of the family. We can’t meet every need or calm every fear. I wish we could. But we’re all needy, fearful, and hurt in ways.
My Pollyanna nature would really like to think that love cures all pain. I’ve tried to bear the burdens of others hoping that my suffering would limit theirs. But feeling another’s pain doesn’t take the pain away. True love wraps around the unique shape of each heart and holds on even though pain continues.
Love is not as simple as, “One size fits all.” It’s more like, “You’re mine forever and I choose to love you no matter what it feels like to either of us.”
It’s not easy for everyone to feel that they belong. On the other hand, showing someone that you want them to be a part of you forever isn’t always cut and dry either. From day to day, our feelings and needs are met or not. We feel connected one moment and then are not in the next. Such is the reality of broken hearts.
A Christmas stocking isn’t much. It’s just a silly old tradition that many families do. But for me it’s an annual claim. This is our family. Your name is on the wall. You are mine. You belong.