Christmas is a time for getting together with relatives, and we all know that. Contact with our relatives, in turn, helps us to discover or be confirmed in our own identity. The picture above is full of uncles. I am flanked by two of my favorites, one on my other’s side and the other on my father’s. On the far left are my own two brothers. Through God’s providence all of us are uncles, and we get to be called by that glorious title whenever we get together for a family reunion. Since I am often called “father” I get a funny (as in warm-fuzzy) feeling when called “uncle”. In fact, the title “uncle” (along with “aunt”) might be the most heard title at many extended family celebrations. The novelty of the occasion makes it all interesting.
Uncles and aunts are important figures in the lives of children. They are between parents and siblings, sort-of mentor-friends who can give some really good life-advice or corrections, though normally with a particular kindness and understanding. This relationship can be taken to supernatural levels, and often are; for example, uncles and aunts are very frequently Godparents. In the 1950s, Saint John Paul II was frequently called “uncle” by his parish youth group (for safety reasons during the Communist regime of Poland, but also for reasons of affection). If you are an uncle or an aunt, realize the importance of your place in the lives of your nephews and nieces; they are affectionately watching you… Blessings!