A Broken Family Can Become a Holy Family

"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.

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


About Author

Abby Brundage Watts is a mother of two little boys. Since January of 2008 she has hosted The Big, Big House Morning Show on Spirit FM 90.5, the radio ministry of the Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg in Florida. The show mixes inspiration, humor and family fun (and great music of course)! You can hear Abby every weekday 6-10am, EST and online at www.myspiritfm.com. She also is the co-creator of the podcast, Perhaps This Is the Moment. You can find it on all the podcast platforms.


  1. Every family it seems has their story. My son married a lovely lady who had 2 children from a previous marriage. Every other Christmas they too cannot be with us. So on those years we have Christmas a week early to exchange presents. And when they come home they find the presents ‘Santa’ left for them under their tree –

    Great article!

  2. Thank you, Carol! I’m still trying to come up with the tradition that will make those “odd years” special. I think, like most traditions, it will probably create itself! Merry Christmas!

  3. Thank you for sharing this. I am going through a painful divorce and seeing my son hurt when he had to go has been difficult. I will pray for you Abby.

  4. Thank you for being open and sharing your struggle with us. I cannot relate to your exact situation, but many families face less than ideal holidays. It can be hard to talk about with others.

  5. Thank you Abby. You are not alone. We will find our way in this and next Christmas (and year) will be better. Love to you and those precious boys.

  6. Madeline Meixner on

    Abby, this is so beautifully written and it really resonates. I will never forget my first Christmas without my children … it gets easier, I promise.

  7. I needed that. Although my boys are grown, I feel like I am getting the raw end of things this year. I did calmly tell my sons and Daughter-in-law that next year it will be my turn to host them for Christmas lunch and see the brother’s exchange gifts. But daughter-in-law’ family keeps inviting my Estranged Husband over for holiday dinners because I have local family and he does not. It feels like a dagger in my side, but I am trying to be a grown up about it.

  8. Children are amazingly resilient.
    You are their role model.
    They will learn how to cope by observing you.

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