What is your favorite thing about Christmas?

          I never imagined at my age and stage of life I would be spending Christmas and New Years with a foreign family in a foreign land. Yet here I find myself and I am so happy. I had no idea what to expect as far as how they would celebrate and what exactly they would celebrate, they are mix of different religions and different beliefs. And I also didn’t know until four days before that I would be celebrating with the whole family. Opa and I had planned to stay home until we were told, “You guys are also coming!” And so we went.

            On Christmas day as we enjoyed dinner together the grandmother asked, “What is your favorite part of Christmas?” And we went around the table and each shared what they remembered being their favorite part of Christmas. Most of the grand kids said time with the family or shared coming to Austria, since that is what they do every year as a family. As they went around I thought also, yes family time is mostly what I remember about Christmas… because that’s mostly what we do, just spend time together: play games, go to church, eat lots of home cooked meals and goodies from mom, watch slides or a picture show, talk, watch Christmas movies, and just be together. But then when I thought longer about what my favorite thing is, I remembered that as a kid it was always preparing the manger for baby Jesus, and then finally placing baby Jesus in his manger on Christmas morning. And even now, I love to watch my precious little niece do the same. She loves preparing for baby Jesus. With or without family, Jesus is the reason for Christmas. I think that is why I can still be so joyful, even thousands of miles away from them, because Jesus is the reason for Christmas and I am so thankful for Him. For Him coming into this world as a humble baby, dependent upon the world to nurture and protect him, and then to give his life to be broken and beaten for my guilt and sins. I celebrate him and though I miss my family, I am filled with joy in knowing He is my savior and I am indebted to him in thankfulness.

....This I am adding on... after a more hours of thinking about this topic. Today especially it has become even more clear to me why family is indeed important. For me it is because they aid in creating the atmosphere of comfort and peace in which I can more easily come and meet with God. Right now living in a family with so much strife and discontentment on top of a lack of faith makes it harder to prepare my heart to meet with God. I first have to remove the distractions and my own pride and envy and then I can finally find peace where God is waiting to meet with me. In my family, when we are together, I feel so much more open to talk and interact with God. My parents create an atmosphere of love and comfort where I can easily feel comfortable and safe. Without that atmosphere, it is an extra effort all the time to meet with God. This makes me so thankful for my parents and their faith, in which they have made it so much easier for me to know and walk daily with God. Thank you mom and dad. I love you both so much.

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