The holidays are a time to reconnect with family. Even if we are turned off by the images of consumerism gone into overdrive, even if we are ambivalent about putting the Christ back in Christmas, we can still affirm the importance of spending time with family. That’s what Christmastime has come to mean to me. It’s a time when I can be with my family and we can remember how important we are to each other. That’s “the reason for the season.”

What does A Course in Miracles have to say about family? There are just a few occurrences of “family” in the Course, but one can easily see a pattern among them. In one place, the Course says that “you and your neighbor are equal members of one family” (T-1.42.4:3). In another, it says, “Ultimately, every member of the family of God must return” (T-1.40.2:4).

What immediately strikes me about these passages is their expanded sense of family. According to them, we are all “equal members of one family” — “the family of God.” We typically see family as people we are especially close to, with whom we are united in a bond of shared genes, shared history, and shared ancestry. What would it feel like to expand that bond, to consider that literally everyone is part of our family?

We may not be related to everyone by blood, but we are related to them far more intimately, in that at our deepest level we share a common being, a common Self. We may not share with them a history on this earth, but we share a far longer history, in that we have all spent eternity together in Heaven. And we may not share an ancestry in the usual sense, but in reality our common roots go far deeper, in that we were all created by the same Father.

Does this mean we should put more distance between us and our earthly family, so that our connection with them is not so vastly different from the connection we feel with everyone else? No. The separation was an act of going our own way. We tried to leave the family of God. Our task now is to return. And in this process we have to start somewhere. It’s with our earthly family that we can begin to learn again what family really means.

But we can’t stop there. We start by anchoring a sense of family with a few, or even one, and then we expand it out from there until it eventually becomes all-encompassing. For just as “every member of the family of God must return,” so we must return, by seeing every member as our family.