I know some people reading this are too young to remember that year, but the time came to mind right away when I searched my memory for an unforgettable Christmas.
When I was a child, Christmas always centered around my mother, her incredible plans for the holidays, her yummy recipes, exciting parties, and the abundance of gifts for everyone. Christmas held the number one spot in her heart – her favorite holiday, and she wanted to savor every moment. After I got married and had children, Christmas wasn’t Christmas anywhere else except at Grandma’s. The girls’ presents went on and on. Some were from Santa, some from Rudolph, some from the elves, and even from Frosty. The gift opening ritual lasted from early morning to night.
In 1973 my soldier-husband received orders for Germany. It’s hard to describe the experience of living in a foreign land – the pros and cons. Many exciting, unique places to visit captivated our time – a weekend flight to London, a journey to Greece on spring-break, and plenty of trips to the beautiful Black Forests and Bavaria. Rather strange, though, were the words on countless billboards along the autobahn in a language I couldn’t read.
What I didn’t anticipate were the events of the following winter when we would celebrate Christmas at our government quarters – alone. No mother, father, or extended family. Wait! I couldn’t have Christmas without them. But that year, we did delight in the holiday. Just the four of us. We were a family. We began to establish our own traditions. Allowing the girls to open one present of their choice on Christmas Eve, baking cookies together, creating cute Christmas decorations. Sure, I missed my family, but for the first time, I realized my husband and kids were my family, too.
That next year I discovered I had another group of relatives as well. That was the year I met my Heavenly Father and found out how much He loves me and values me. It happened when I came to know His son, Jesus, as my savior. God welcomes anyone and makes them feel right at home. His family is the best.
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12
Dear Lord, though my earthy family may be far away, Your presence is always with me. Amen.