Christmas “as usual” has always been to gather our adult children’s families to us for Christmas Eve. Everyone arrives early in the afternoon. To keep the focus on God’s gift to us, Jesus, we ended the gift exchange. Instead, everyone brings something for all to share, be it a board game, puzzle, tasty treats, or online game everyone can play together. The house rings with conversation and laughter. Our daughter now cooks the meal. (She’s so much more talented than I am and knows how to have everything on the table and everyone around it on time!) We have a family prayer and enjoy the feast. Once the table is cleared, and the dishes done, we all move into the living room where we read the Christmas story from the Book of Luke. All too soon, Christmas is over, and everyone heads back to their normal, work-a-day lives. 

Frankly, I was depressed that the COVID shelter-in-place order is keeping part of our family from coming “home” this year for Christmas. No one has tested positive and everyone is well, but one family is seriously concerned they might bring something other than goodies to share.  

I’m thankful for technology. We’ll still be able to see and talk to them with Zoom, but it’s just not the same as a joyful hug, welcoming kisses, and hours to talk and laugh together in person. As my husband Rick and I get older, time with our children and grandchildren is more and more precious.  

This year, rather than focus on disappointment in what we will miss, we’re fixing our thoughts on our blessings. We have much for which to be thankful. COVID rules may change from day-to-day, but the love of the Lord is constant and lasts forever. Our strength and hope are in Christ Jesus, not government dictates or fluctuating systems. 

Thanksgiving was the first unusual event this year, and those family members able to come brought with them a list of 26 things for which they are thankful. Each list was as unique as the individual; from alphabetized blessings, to having a list of twenty-six people who blessed them, and on to deeply thought-out life changing moments and events. That tone will hold for Christmas as well. 

Sometimes it is the unusual things that come our way that help keep us refocused on what never changes. God is God, and there is no other way to salvation but through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. In Him, we are safe and free. No matter the physical distance between us, we are one in Him and with one another, not just for today, but always.  

New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers had a successful writing career in the general market for several years becoming a born-again Christian; she then wrote Redeeming Love as her statement of faith.