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There’s a reason the “Cousin Eddie” character in the movie National Lampoon Christmas Vacation resonates with so many. We’ve all got a Cousin Eddie, or two, in our extended families. Some of us are Cousin Eddie. Our families weren’t designed for a televised Christmas special.

And despite the idyllic picture in Christmas cards and carol lyrics, human depravity doesn’t go into hibernation between Christmas Eve and New Year’s.

This morning I talked with some folks in my church about an issue that will hit all of us sooner or later: tensions within extended families at the holiday time. Some of the people I was talking to will be visiting non-Christian family members. Some of them have family members who are contemptuous of the Christian faith, and are downright hostile to the whole thing.

Others are empty nest couples who now have sons- or daughters-in-law to get adjusted to, maybe even grandchildren who are being reared, well, not exactly the way the grandparents would do it. Still others are young couples who are figuring out how to keep from offending family members who are watching the calendar, to see which side of the family gets more time on the ledger. And others are new parents, trying to figure out how to parent their child when it’s Mammonpalooza at Aunt Flossie’s house this year.

And, of course, there’s just always the kind of thing that happens when sinful people come into contact with one another. Somebody asks “When is the baby due?” to an unpregnant woman or somebody blasts your favorite political figure or…well, you know.

Here are a few quick thoughts on what followers of Jesus ought to remember, especially if you’ve got a difficult extended family situation.

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