Many people think that the twelve days of Christmas, referred to in the Christmas carol, ends on Christmas morning. Retail stores pass this myth along by having 12 days of Christmas sales before Christmas.
The twelve days of Christmas begin on the evening of Dec. 25 and continue until Epiphany, the day when Christians believe that Jesus was found by the wise men.
In some cultures, Epiphany is observed as Three Kings Day and is a day for giving gifts as the wise men gave gifts to the Christ child.
Twelfth Night festivities are often accompanied by feasting, taking down the Christmas tree and other decorations and eating a King Cake. In New Orleans and other areas with a French influence, King Cake is part of the Mardi Gras celebration.
In the middle of the twelve days of Christmas, the Feast of the Holy Family is celebrated in the Roman Catholic Church on the Sunday following Christmas.
The liturgical readings on the Feast of the Holy Family are centered around family. These readings include the Gospel reading of Jesus teaching in the temple as his parents searched for him desperately.
Nearly all parents can relate to worrying about our children. It’s hard to imagine Jesus’ parents, Mary and Joseph, searching everywhere and the worry they must have felt.
The Feast of the Holy Family is a great time to examine the relationships within your own family. Are we following God’s commands to honor our father and mother? Do we show Christian love for our spouse and honor and obey each other? Do we try not to discourage our children?
The call to be a parent is one that many of us answer. To live that call as a Christian parent means more than just providing for our children’s physical and emotional needs.
We are also called to provide for our children’s spiritual needs, helping them grow in faith and love for God. We are also called to be role models, teaching our children how to act as parents.
Children are always watching what we do and comparing our actions to what we say. Family is love in action. When we show our children the love we have for them and for God, we teach them how to love others.
A family is a special gift from God. Do we always feel blessed by this gift and do we show the joy we feel, even in times of stress and difficulty? Most of us fall short here, myself included.
Whether or not your family celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family, this is a good time to examine more deeply how your family interacts.
Do you practice kindness to one another? Are you supportive of each other? Do you stand together as a model for your children?
Family is God’s gift to us. Our gift in return is to strive to follow the footsteps of Joseph and Mary as we parent our children each day.
If you make New Year’s resolutions each year, consider adding a resolution about parenting your children as God calls us to do. Teach true family values from the heart in words and actions and your whole family will reap the benefits.