"A Broken Family Can Become a Holy Family" by Abby Brundage (CatholicMom.com) Via Freeimages.com (2005), CC0 Public Domain

Last year on Christmas Eve I cried. A lot.

My sons and I went to the 4pm vigil Mass, and then I pulled into the parking lot of a Lowe’s and handed them over to their father. I buckled my then-4- and 2-year-olds into their car seats, gave kisses, told them to try to stay awake for Santa and sent them on their way. I held back tears as long as I could so they wouldn’t see me get upset, but that was the moment I had been dreading since the day my ex-husband and I went to mediation for our divorce. Every other year. That’s it. The magic of Christmas morning, being awoken to squeals or jabs in the arm to “come quick” was only going to be mine in even-numbered years. That’s never how I pictured my family.

Whether you’re divorced, widowed, a parent of a child who has passed away or maybe in a strained relationship with a family member, the holidays have a way of amplifying the pain, especially when we think of the hopes and dreams we had for these special occasions.

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So what do we do when the occasion that is supposed to be the source of so much joy becomes one of pain? I think we take a cue from the Holy Family.

We nurture like the Blessed Mother: Her womb and then her arms provided the perfect place for our savior to grow and find comfort. I know when I’m feeling sorry for myself or my circumstances, if I love on my boys a little bit more, it fills me up.

We trust like St. Joseph: He could have let anger or pride lead his emotions, but instead he chose to trust. He couldn't necessarily see what would happen the next year or even the next day, but he knew God’s plan was perfect.

We lower ourselves like Jesus: He came into the world with humility. Sometimes when we think the world is crashing down it's because we are looking too hard at our world. It's all revolving around us. If we look outside of ourselves we can see the need around us, lend a hand and be a light, just like the child Jesus.

My family looks little like the Holy Family in its physical makeup, but I pray that one step at a time we will come to resemble them in our love.

Copyright 2016 Abby Brundage