Or training in holiness. We are in relationships we cannot escape; we know the worst about each other, but we have to deal with it, and we have no choice but to learn mercy, and humility.
What Jesus wants for Christmas is for us to grow into the surprising, arduous holiness that just might evolve from these seasonal visits to those we cherish and adore, those whose minds have grown clouded and confused, those who’ve hurt and been hurt, the strangers who share our DNA but not much else. They are your past, the big hidden truth about yourself.
And they are your future. I love Judy Garland singing “Have yourself a merry little Christmas” in Meet Me in St. Louis – and its lyric which invites us (if we’re diligent, patient, and a bit lucky) into a more holy life: “Faithful friends who are dear to us, gather near to us once more… Through the years we all will be together.” Of that we can be certain; I suspect Jesus ordained things to be just this way for us.