Christmas Eve! Even as a child, the anticipation of Christmas was more intense on Christmas Eve. In the Hinchee family, this meant visiting from house to house. Eating, exchanging gifts with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. As children, my cousins, my baby sister and later, my brother usually played (especially when there were babies in the family! It was a constant contest to get the baby’s attention because we all wanted to hold the babies.) in another room away from the adults. The topic of conversation (before 1968 when I received Christ as my Savior) was all about what we might find under the tree the next morning. Suddenly, we would stop talking. “What was that? Did you hear sleigh bells? I didn’t believe in “Santa” but it was fun to pretend and to see my younger cousin’s face light up as she ran to the window to investigate.
After visiting one house, we went to our cars together to drive to the next house. I loved looking at the stars each time we went outside. I just knew the brightest star had to be the Bethlehem star! Such wonderful memories of family members who are no longer with us. Others who have their own children and grandchildren share photos of their gatherings and I look forward to seeing them!
This was my first Christmas in the Hinchee family. I will never forget how they welcomed me into the family and included me as “one of the kids”!
We kept this tradition for many years. It was my honor to host Christmas Eve in 1983 0r 1984 in my own apartment! After John and I married in 1985 we invited our immediate families over for Christmas day the first year. After that, we traveled to Roanoke on Christmas day, splitting the day into visits with both of our families.
For many years, we have invited friends, family and someone who might not have family in Lynchburg into our home on Christmas Eve after the candlelight service at Church. This usually included dinner, dessert, (sometimes) singing and always reading the Christmas Story.
This year will be different. Illness in the family has changed our usual gatherings and I haven’t been able to decorate as much as I normally do or even bake this year but that’s okay. It isn’t about the decorations or the wrappings. It is about celebrating the moment God took the form of man as a tiny, virgin born baby to give His life so that we might have life more abundant with Him!
Just as the Hinchee family wrapped their arms around me and included me as part of the family when Mom married Dad Hinchee, by receiving Christ as our Savior, we become part of His family! Aren’t you glad? I am in awe of His wondrous gift!
Am I ready for Christmas this year? Nope. But then, neither were Mary and Joseph that wonderful night Jesus was born.
Merry Christmas, everyone and enjoy every moment you have your loved ones with you.