Today's Gospel details what we have come to call the "Visitation", when Mary traveled to see Elizabeth after hearing news of her pregnancy. I began to think about the power and benefits of visiting. When I was a child, we always took the week between Christmas and New Year to visit relatives and close friends. The patterns of these visits became the stuff of family legend, as most traditions do. It would begin with my father's speech in the car on the way to visit. The speech would vary a little, depending on whether or not there were children who would be there or not. The usual "Make sure to give so and so a kiss, don't ask for anything until it is offered, say thank you and only take one" would be added reminders on how to play with the other children who would be there. And always ending with the admonishment "When I say we are going home, don't argue!"
The purpose of these visits was to reaffirm our relationships. Whether great aunt or uncle, third cousin once removed, former neighbor or school chum of my mother, we always knew that, at least at Christmas, we would be able to reconnect and re-establish our ties. And I still cherish those memories today.
Unfortunately, in the age of Facebook, IM's and text messaging, a lot of people do not bother to visit in person anymore. Some do not see relatives for years on end, not because of great distance but simply because of lack of will.
I believe that, as we prepare for another Christmas Season, it would be a good idea to try and plan some face-to-face visits. Take an evening or two and plan a get -together with relatives or friends you have not seen in a while. And I am not talking about a party with a lot of people. Simply an old-fashioned visit in your or their home. This will give you sufficient time to have a meaningful conversation and find out about your lives, reconnecting with one another and deepening the bonds of love and friendship. I believe it would be a great way to celebrate the spirit of the season.
So, how about it? Want to plan your own visitation?