As soon as our turkey dinner was cleared from the Thanksgiving table, my siblings and I knew Christmas had already begun.
The spicy aroma of freshly-baked gingersnaps soon filled the air. We filled festive mugs with hot cider and my dad would lower the needle of our record player and soon A Perry Como Christmas would put us in the holiday spirit.
I can still remember the decorative covers that showcased the other vinyls as we pulled them out of the Christmas boxes – Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra, The Carpenters, Andy Williams and Ray Conniff in their Christmas best.
While helping to separate tinsel strands to hang on the tree, my siblings and I would join Perry as he sang “There’s no place like home for the holidays.”
‘Home for the holidays’ – whether we go home or our family members come home – is the heart’s deepest desire of the season.
I know the particular pain this time of year can bring if we’re not able to celebrate with those we love. Now that I’ve moved to Tennessee, we won’t be able to gather in Washington or Oregon with our extended family on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, as we’ve done for the last 28 years while our children were growing up.
When we moved to Tennessee in fall of 2020, I unpacked as fast as I possibly could. I wanted our new place to feel cozy, comfortable, and familiar when our kids arrived at our new home for the holidays.
As I did what my husband deemed ‘nesting,’ I thought about how my heavenly Father is preparing a place for me. Having His children together with Him is what He has always wanted, as well.
I am once again planning on my kids coming home for the holidays. I am preparing a place for them, and making things ready: meals, rooms, decorations, and activities to do with them while they are here.
I’m so grateful our Heavenly Father has a plan in motion for our home-coming as well.
Today and the next three episodes, I’ll be sharing God’s Plan For The Best Christmas Ever.
These are short and sweet thoughts about what I imagine it must have been like in Heaven as God started planning the Christmas story … and what it must still be like as He prepares to bring us home for the best Christmas ever!
As soon as I was old enough to understand that I could have a baby, I wanted to have as many as I could. I loved babies so much that as a teenager, I even canceled a few dates when I got calls asking if I was free to babysit! Anticipating having a child is something I remember so clearly.
I wonder how Mary anticipated having children. She was engaged to be married, so having a family must have been in her thoughts for the future, too. I’m guessing that immaculate conception was not in her plan! But it was in God’s.
“In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
And the angel came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you.’ But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be.
Then the angel told her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.” Luke 1:26-31
The pages of the Bible can hardly contain all the excitement around the birth of Christ: the angels singing, the shepherds in shock, the star shining the glory, and the wise men traveling, all part of the story that I remember picturing as a child.
I love how the Gospel of Luke focuses on Mary’s role surrounding the story of Jesus.
As a mother, I love how we are told in Luke 2:18-19 that all who heard were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them.
Personally, I love photo books and journals as tangible ways to keep memories: crafts from school, letters from my kids, and photos all the fun times that we shared are all treasures to me.
To treasure something is to keep it from perishing.
Christmas is a combination of two words: ‘Christ’ and ‘Mass,’ and it means ‘Communion with the anointed.’
John 3:16 tells us: For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
So one way of looking at Christmas is this:
“For God so treasured the world that He sent His Son so that we can all come home for that communion with the anointed.”
Ever since the fall — way back in the Garden of Eden— Our Father has longed to have us all at the table in communion with Him.
The intricate details of God’s plan are a treasure that we too can meditate on this Christmas.
It is my prayer for you and your families this Christmas that you will find peace and joy this season in the words that Gabriel shared with Mary when she was told that the son she carried would reign over the house of Jacob and His kingdom would never end.
“For Nothing will be impossible with God!”
Take time to think of one tradition that you treasure and continue to give thanks to God for His blessings.