Merry Christmas, friends! This is my view as I’m reflecting on Christmas and thinking about my Christmas message to you this year. I will start with “Thank you,” because, as always, so many of you have been so kind to think of me and ask about my family and let us know you’re praying for us on this first Christmas without my dad.

How are we? We are celebrating. Not in the same exact way we always have, and not without the occasional flood of tears, but we are celebrating. My best Christmas efforts will never compare to the Christmas my dad is having this year with his own parents, many other friends and family, and the Christ of Christmas Himself. The loss in our lives is very great, but the gain for him is unimaginable. I keep my focus on that as best I can and I hope, if you’re spending your first Christmas without someone you love, this will help you, too.

And as for my best tip on how to keep Christmas well…here it is. Don’t fret over the insignificant. Remember the best present is presence. Take all the pictures, give all the hugs, say all the words. Make all the memories.

And then, so you will have those memories to reflect on for years to come, write them down. I’m not the best at keeping journals throughout the year. But, I have this Christmas journal, which I started writing on Grant’s first Christmas, back in 1997. And every year since, I have kept our Christmas here.

I start with Thanksgiving and write out where we went, or who came to visit. I write about the parties and the people and whatever events we attended that year.

I even write about the gifts we gave the kids and the ones we received.

I write out our plans even into New Year’s. And then, as I get the book out each year, I look back over the pages and remember.

The last lines from last year’s pages say this, “We shall see what comes next. God, be with us!”

And He has been.

Because of Christ, I can keep Christmas well. Because of Him, I know this picture was not really our last Christmas with my dad. We will be celebrating Christmas together again one day. I pray you have this hope as well.

Merry Christmas, friends!