Beginning with the December night when I proposed marriage, this is our 63rd year as a couple. Memories fight for preeminence when the bank is so full. When I think of home and Christmas, the smells of the season rise to the top. When Ruth gets in the kitchen, the odors of baking and seasoning are as irresistible as she is. The special tarts, the hot dishes, the varieties of cookies and desserts challenge my “all you can eat” manhood.

The recipe I have in mind today, however, has to do with the ingredients which build memories for the family in this season.

A Merry Christmas means a place to go.

If you are old enough to remember – and blessed to have them – then you went to the grandparents’ house for Christmas. It was often that “place.” Their house was the kind that caught memories like dust. It was small but it seemed to expand so that all the children and grandchildren could gather and find a place to sleep, even if it was a blanket and a pillow in the bathtub. Here’s a question: are you making a memory place of your home for your children or grandchildren?

A Merry Christmas includes people to love.

The Christmas season is the time when the dispersion returns home. Brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, and those cousins you only see once a year bring a sense of pleasure to the gathering. At Christmas we are drawn to the spirit of patching up our quarrels and a sense of friendliness toward those we may have omitted during the year. Christmas gives us the opportunity to forgive those we think have done us wrong and to feel a fresh start in those pleasant words: “Merry Christmas!” Never forget that the people of Christmas are far more important than the presents!

A Merry Christmas focuses our purpose.

We come together to celebrate the season of hope, the renewal of friendships, and a moment to give away some tokens of our esteem for others. But, of course, Christmas is more than a room full of gifts that will soon be transformed into a sea of torn wrapping paper, depending on how many children are present.

Celebrating the birth of Christ reminds us that we can have good will toward others. It may often strike a chord deep within us to share with those less fortunate than we have been. Christmas always calls us to find room in our hearts for the Christ child.

A Merry Christmas is based on power.

This transformation has been described as the explosive power of a great idea. The angelic announcement caused fear in the shepherds, shed brightness on the dark hills of Bethlehem, and gave the world some good news to share. It is the power of a story so unlikely that it captures us.

Christmas is when God gives us what we need. If we had needed an education, He would have given us a teacher. If we had needed a victory in battle, he would have given us a general. If we had needed money, he would have given us a banker. But we needed forgiveness; so he gave us a Savior!

May the story of Bethlehem be for you and your family the place, the people, the purpose and the power that mix into a recipe for a happy season. It only comes once a year; may its flavor linger in our hearts all year long! Merry Christmas!

Dr. James E Kilgore retired as President of the International Family Foundation and lives in Canton. His most recent book, LIVING WITHOUT LIMITS, was published this month and is available at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

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