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What Keeps Me Joyful in the Christmas Season W e always traveled down to Georgia to look at Christmas lights when we visited my dad’s family in South season. As my parents, my sister, and I drove CELEBRATION IN ANY CIRCUMSTANCE
Carolina. It was a big tradition when I was a kid. I don’t remember much about what the lights looked like, or even why we went all the way down to Georgia to look at them, but what I do remember was what it was like traveling down there. We brought the whole family with us. Every year there would be a caravan of 10 cars making its way down the highway. We sometimes stopped on the way down, and family members would switch cars and mingle with other family members. It was rare to arrive at the lights in the same car you left in. Memories like that really encapsulate what I cherish about those Christmases when I was young. When I was growing up in Virginia, we always traveled to visit my grandparents on my mom’s side in North Carolina and my grandparents on my dad’s side in South Carolina. We would spend three or four days with each set of grandparents during the holiday “ In this season, I always try to remember the real reason why we celebrate the holiday because it’s a reason that never disappoints. ”
down to meet them, the radio filled the car with Christmas music and everyone was in good cheer. When we would arrive at my grandparents’
house, all my aunts, uncles, and cousins would be there, and we would greet one another and reconnect over meals. My favorite dish was always my grandma’s mac and cheese. The big noodles and multiple layers of cheese would honestly make it any kid’s favorite. Sadly, however, Christmas can’t always just be about lights, family time, and Grandma’s mac and cheese. Along with all the great memories that come with December, our family has had our fair share of sorrow and loss during that time. As the years went by, my grandparents all passed away around this time of year. Not only that, but my father also passed away years ago on Dec. 20. Regardless of what month of the year your family members have passed on, the Christmas season can often bring about feelings of loss just as easily as it can bring back bright, twinkling memories. Christmas can accentuate both feelings of joy and sorrow. And, in this season, I always try to remember the real reason why we
celebrate the holiday because it’s a reason that never disappoints. It’s a season to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He will never disappoint us. When you keep your eyes on what Christmas is actually about, the season is worth celebrating, regardless of any bittersweet memories that might come up. Now that my family has moved to South Carolina, we’re kind of far away from either side of our family, and we’ve decided to have Christmas at home. We’ll still make time to see both sides of the family during December, but Christmas Day is for our immediate family. But, just because Christmas isn’t what it used to be, that doesn’t make it worse. The real reason for celebration doesn’t change, so there’s cause for joy regardless of how we celebrate the day.
–Dr. Chris Garner
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