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Our dog Bear is decked in her snowflake Christmas sweater, anxiously pacing back and forth at my feet. My body is tired, but my heart is jubilant as my family arrives home tonight to spend the last week of Advent and Christmas together. I have prayed for their safe travel and prepared the house to welcome them. I cleaned, decorated, shopped, cooked, changed linens, lit candles, and selected music to envelop them with warm feelings in the hope that they would remember good things about being home. I do this because I want my family to want to come home. As children grow and become more independent, they realize they have the freedom to make their own decisions. The decisions we make as adults to go home can be fueled by either a sense of obligation or eager anticipation. I prefer my family members to experience the latter. I want them to want to come home. So, although our family, like many others, has challenges and bumps to contend with, I intentionally attempt to create delightful in-betweens and joy-filled endings to each chapter of our holiday stories together.
There are some consistencies to the story of our holiday gatherings. There are also some expectations of change as children marry into other families with consistencies of their own. It helps to focus on the blessings of these unions and less on the changes they bring to our celebrations. After all, the most important consistency of our Christmas is the Christmas Story itself. The story of a love so grand, so infinite, that God came down to live among us, and to teach us so that we might live and celebrate forever. We have forever to celebrate! Our time together is not finite because our Lord has prepared a place for us in our forever home with Him. He wants us to want to go home. Because of His preparation for us, we can have a peaceful spirit that supports, loves, and shares with those with whom we love and connect so they, too, will know they are part of an incredible holiday story.
Not to discount my efforts and work, but all the glitter, tinsel, and cinnamon sprinkles will pale in comparison to Christ’s preparation for us so that we might choose to follow Him to our heavenly home in His kingdom.
It is unknown who composed the Christmas carol “Away In A Manger,” but we know that there was “A Way In A Manger.” Christ, the deliverer and Savior, rescues us. He is the way for peace, reconciliation, hope, and the way to our heavenly home. You and I are part of a great story. The greatest story ever told.
A few years ago, my husband and I were blessed to visit the exact shepherd’s field in Beit Sahur, in the outskirts of Bethlehem, where the angels appeared and delivered the message that would shake the world.
My family is now tucked in for the night. Bear is tired and lying near my feet as I finish my thoughts to share with you. I implore you this Christmas to truly hear the angel chorus sing, see the candles glow, feel their warmth, and absorb the fragrance of the celebration of Christ’s birth. Our chapter in His Christmas Story is glorious and consistent.
Merry Christmas, one and all!
Till next week!
Dr. Marie Yvette Hernandez-Seltz is the founder of Candescent Counseling, Consulting & Coaching. She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and an M.S. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. She has spent the past 15 years studying self-esteem, self-confidence, responsibility, and the effects of environment and culture on the individual.