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December 24, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – This time last year was very challenging for my family. As I wrote earlier this fall, my mom had just been taken from us suddenly in a car wreck and my eldest son (at that time seven) was recovering from injuries sustained in the crash. None of us felt like decorating or baking cookies or celebrating much of anything. So, we packed up our RV, put Mom's mini-Christmas tree up as our decoration, and drove off into the wild. We spent a week hiking in the mountains, fishing, having bonfires, and just being together. We took a break from grief and rested in the wonders of God's creation.

This break from our heartache was perfect for last year. But now that the raw edge of grief has worn down a bit, we realized that we missed Christmas. It feels like it has been forever since we enjoyed the sounds, smells, and anticipation of this blessed season. And we have determined to really soak it all in this year.

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It is challenging with all that is going on in the world. We can't do all that we would like – no caroling at the nursing home or baking cookies for the neighbors. But we are trying to focus on what we can do and the ways we can enjoy Christmas with family and friends. We set up a big Christmas tree that holds all of our ornaments and my mom's. (She also collected nativity sets, so we have about a dozen of those around the house.) And her mini-tree is gracing our kitchen with some extra Christmas cheer. For the first time, we set up a nativity in the front yard to share the reason for the season with all who pass by. All my normal Christmas baking recipes are floating around in my head, and the kids are counting the days to Christmas.

Some of you may feel like skipping Christmas this year. And that is okay. Some of you may feel forced to because of all the restrictions you are under. And some of you, like us, may need to go over the top for having missed out last year. No matter which place you find yourself, it is my hope and prayer that each of you are able to take a break from the grief and stress and anxiety of this year. To rest in the amazing miracle that is the birth of Christ. To keep your eyes fixed on that precious baby lying in a manger. To let Him fill you up. And then in whatever way you can, spread that joy to others.

May this time of reflection and rest strengthen us for whatever God will ask of us in the new year.

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