And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"

Luke 2:13-14 

Christmas Memories - Past...

Christmas reminiscing. What memories pop into your head? Possibly the festive meals, the beautifully wrapped presents, or waiting up all night to hear the sleigh bells jingle on the rooftop? Maybe your thoughts linger to moments of family gatherings. My heart rests here.

In my childhood, Christmas opened the door to the family. Not just immediate family, but extended family. On my dad's side, Christmas Eve was an invitation for all the relatives to pop in. From the morning until night my grandmother's house represented a revolving door. Each year I met a new batch of cousins I had no idea existed! Then as evening approached, we all loaded up in cars and headed to my great Aunt Patsy and Uncle Bill's house to experience her "Open Door Policy." I remember the difficulty finding places to park due to the number of visitors. Warmth rises in my heart just thinking about the hugs as we walked through the door. She always hosted a variety of desserts no one could resist. Then, later in the evening we would make our way to my mom's side of the family. The moment I entered my Auntie and Uncie's home love and laughter filled the air. Oh, what memories to behold

For some, these memories aren't as pleasant and sweet. In fact, statistics shows depression rises during this time of year. Possibly, your memories consist of broken family relationships, loneliness, financial stresses, the weather, loss of a loved one, unmet expectations, and more. Please be assured God can make things different. Let Him use your story for His glory. Ask Him to help you focus your heart and mind on Kingdom purposes.

I must confess–I have fallen into the trap of thinking my house must have the "perfect" Christmas look before I invite people for dinner or a gathering. Seriously, this way of thinking is so far from my relatives mindset! They never worried if the colors totally matched or if all the tree lights worked. They just invited ALL to come. Hmm... looks like I have some things to work on myself. I will let you know how things go as I move into the season... Dear God, thank you for the example of the heart of my relatives. May I continue to pass this same tradition on the generations that follow. 

Christmas Challenge... Why does Christmas bring families together? What makes this time of year a drawing factor for relatives? How can this year be different from Christmas Memories Past? I have an idea, use this time to pray for those you only visit with once a year. Ask God to open your eyes as you  pray for these special people. God has placed you in your family for a reason. You might be the only one God silently calls to stand in the gap for these relatives. Ask the Holy Spirit to be your reminder. Pray that they know Jesus personally, as Lord and Savior. Oh, have a blessed time creating Christmas Memories Past for generations to come!

From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal

Reflective Life Ministries