Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

I love Christmas. It contains some of the fondest memories of my life. From the receiving of gifts to the precious time with family, it is my favorite time of year. 2020 has been tough for all of us. This Christmas season is so much different from any in our memory. The decorated halls at the mall and long lines at the register in retail stores has been replaced with shopping from home and UPS deliveries. Christmas parties with friends and co-workers have been replaced with working from home and a hope that parties return in the spring.

I want to encourage you to find joy amid the difficult time. James encourages us to “consider it all joy when you face various trials…” (James 1:2). My family and I leave this week for an unexpected trip to Oklahoma for the funeral of my grandmother. It is a painful reminder of my grandfathers’ funerals a week apart in December, 23 years ago. But do you know what I remember about that time 23 years ago? I got to see all my aunts and cousins for Christmas as we celebrated the lives that impacted us all so greatly. I am heartbroken over the loss of my grandmother whom I loved so dearly. But at the same time, I look forward to seeing my aunts and cousins during the Christmas season. They are part of every childhood Christmas memory and we are going to enjoy remembering those times together. I have had very few Christmases without my grandmother, but I am jealous of the celebration she is part of this year. She celebrates without pain in the very presence of our Savior. I would never want to take that away from her. She has been given the greatest of Christmas gifts.

Find the joy in the middle of the struggle. Many of you mourn those who are no longer with us this Christmas. Remember the good times. Paul encourages us to “not grieve as others do who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Yes, we grieve. But we grieve differently because of the hope that has been given to us through Jesus Christ. Smile! Sing praises! Rejoice! The Savior was born in a manger and He became the perfect sacrifice for us. There are plenty of reasons to celebrate Christmas in 2020.

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