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A Most Memorable Christmas by Judy DuCharme

The thrill has never left. We had no idea that it would be so wonderful…it just seemed like a fun Christmas-y event to attend. Every year the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., hosts a free Messiah Sing. The day was cold and finding a parking spot proved difficult. Still we were excited to do this. However, the line wrapped all the way around the building on the outside. We weren’t quite dressed to be outdoors for an extended time. A kindly gentleman ushered us to the end of the line with a gracious “You’ll probably get seats but not together.”

My husband and daughter waited outside while our son and I stayed inside. The building hosts exquisite hallways with beautiful chandeliers and beautiful banners. We enjoyed watching the people travel by and prayed we’d obtain tickets. The line moved so slowly.

A woman walked up beside me. I saw her hand full of the free tickets and watched as she scanned the line, obviously trying to find someone. I smiled. “You must be happy. You got your tickets.”

“Yes, but the weather has kept our friends from getting here Do you have your tickets?”

“We hope to, even though we might not get to sit together. My husband and daughter are at the end of the line.”

“Well, let them know you now have tickets.”

The woman was a contributor to the Kennedy Center, and we sat directly behind her in Row 8. A senator sat behind us and the person next to us was there for the twenty-third time.

The singing, the music, the spirit, the anointing touched our souls. I had never in my life listened to the whole Messiah. I probably knew but never considered that every single word came from Scripture. The words repeated over and over, flowed into our beings, and lifted our hearts.

Three conductors, amazing solo singers beautifully and formally dressed, a perfect orchestra and a choir full of wonderful voices reverberated with the volume and presence of God. At certain places in the cantata the audience sang along. I looked around at the full to capacity main floor, balconies, gorgeous walls and chandeliers. Just thinking about it I feel the anointing of singing God’s word with such moving music and passion. It’s one of the most beautiful memories I’ve ever had of Christmas.

About the Author:

Judy DuCharme is the Author of Christmas Ivy, Run With the Wind, Blood Moon Redemption, Society of the L.A.M.B., The Cheesehead Devotional Kickoff Edition, and The Cheesehead Devotional Hall of Fame Edition. You can connect with Judy on her website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

About Christmas Ivy:

Linney Merritt loves her life in the Florida scrub where she assists her Pa in raising and taking cattle to market. The new cowman, Cyrus John, appreciates the chance to start over. Marrying holds no interest for either, but they can’t help but be drawn to each other. And then, just before Christmas, they find themselves fighting together to save the life of a calf, all while discovering the One who can remove fears and provide forgiveness.

Christmas Ivy won First Place Short Story at the 2016 Florida Christian Writers Conference and was a Winner in the 2018 National Indie Excellence Awards.

About Run With the Wind:

Linney Merritt loves her life in the Florida scrub where she assists her Pa in raising and taking cattle to market. The new cowman, Cyrus John, appreciates the chance to start over. Marrying holds no interest for either, but they can’t help but be drawn to each other. And then, just before Christmas, they find themselves fighting together to save the life of a calf, all while discovering the One who can remove fears and provide forgiveness.

Priceless Holiday Memories by LoRee Peery

Wrapped up in all the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations, how do others see you? Do you portray harried grouchiness or joy in the season of our Lord’s birthday? “A joyful heart makes a cheerful face,” (Prov. 15:13).

Nostalgia of childhood goes hand in hand with holiday happenings. Taking a trip back in time, I remember my mother telling us how fortunate we were at Christmas time. Her gifts as a child were needed homemade clothing, and maybe an orange. In comparison, kids of today are privileged.

One of my favorite memories is the wonderful school plays given in the one-room country schoolhouse. Blankets strung on wire created stage curtains. The teacher sat on a bench with script in hand to prompt students. We also sang and recited poems. Once the program ended, an ancient Santa wearing a seamed face and lots of padding, rang out in his jolly bass, “Ho, ho, ho, M-e-r-r-y Christmas!” His voice resounded through the room as we waited to taste the delightful goodies he carried in that gunnysack slung over his shoulder: hard candy, nuts, mints covered in chocolate that we called “haystacks,” an orange and an apple.

From Kindergarten through eighth grade, I participated in the Christmas Eve Sunday school program presented at our postcard-picture little white church with the steeple. That’s where I memorized Christmas carols. We kids were allowed to open one gift before we left for church. Most of the time, a necessary surprise to wear for the night.

Our trees were always spindly, sparsely branched cedars cut from the pasture or shelterbelt—Charley Brown trees. We kids loved throwing on icicles to cover up the holes between branches. With so many small helpful hands involved, the glass baubles grew fewer each year.

What are you leaving as memories of joy for your loved ones? Traditions create memories and bind families. Whatever your memories, savor them because life is short, and changing faster than we can voice an opinion. Take time to make new memories. Love one another, and may I challenge you to leave a legacy of joy.

About LoRee’s Christmas novella, A Cardinal Christmas:

Blythe loves her job and doesn’t need personal relationships, especially of the “love life” variety. Steeling herself from a recent heartbreak, Blythe focuses on furthering her successful career, but when her father needs surgery, Blythe returns home to help with the family auto shop. There, she comes face-to-face with the dreams of her past.

Werner has been content to let life pass him by. Following the death of his parents and the loss of his job, he returns to the only place he’s ever called home. He finds Blythe more breathtaking than he remembered. But her presence is only temporary and she refuses to let him in.

Can Blythe leave her career behind for a whole new life? Though her heart cries to remain with Werner, can she risk being hurt again?

More About LoRee Peery:

Christian romance author LoRee Peery writes to feel alive, as a way of contributing, and to pass forward the hope of rescue from sin. She writes of redeeming grace with a sense of place. LoRee clings to 1 John 5:4 and prays her family sees that faith. She has authored the Frivolities Seriesand other e-books. Her desire for readers, the same as for her characters, is to discover where they fit in this life journey to best work out the Lord’s life plan. She is who she is by the grace of God: Christian, country girl, wife, mother, grandmother, sister, friend, and author. She’s been a reader since before kindergarten. Connect with LoRee through her blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook. Find her publications at Pelican Book Group and Amazon.

The Christmas Journey by Carol James

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem. Luke 2:4

Christmas was always a special time growing up. Yet, I can remember only one spent with aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins. My father was a career military officer, so we lived away from family.

But our home was never empty. It was filled with friends and airmen who also had no family nearby. Dad made certain no one under his command spent Christmas alone, and Mom made the holidays fun and festive for whoever filled our house.

Early in our marriage, when my husband was transferred from Texas to Georgia, my mother had one request. To spend Christmases together. So, every year, we filled the car with children and presents and made the eighteen-hour drive home for the holidays.

One December, as we began our journey, the worst Arctic cold snap on record hit north Texas. We’d planned to stay one night in a hotel along the way, but the farther we travelled, the more we realized that was impossible.

Hotels and restaurants had no power or water. Gas stations had fuel but no electricity to run the pumps. With no place to stop, our only choice was to keep going.

Ice frosted the inside of our car windows, so I tucked coats, blankets, stuffed animals, anything I could find around our preschool daughters to keep them warm.

And as my husband drove on, I prayed. Prayed we’d have enough fuel. Prayed the little car would keep running. Prayed our girls would stay warm. Prayed neither would need to stop for a potty break. Prayed for peace for my parents.

And, as I prayed, I remembered the journey of the first Christmas. Knowing the King of kings was about to be born, was Joseph worried when none of the inns had rooms and they had to spend the night in a stable, away from comfort and family? Or did he trust?

In the midst of the frigid December cold, peace blanketed me. The One Who had directed their journey was also directing ours.

I don’t remember the gifts exchanged that Christmas, the food we ate, the guests who shared our house. But I will always remember the joy glimmering in my parents’ eyes as they answered our knock. And God’s protection for our journey.

About the Author:

Carol James is an author of inspirational fiction. She lives in a small town outside of Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, Jim, and a perky Jack Russell “Terrorist,” Zoe.

Having always loved intriguing stories with happy endings, she was moved to begin writing to encourage others as she’d been encouraged by the works of other authors of inspirational fiction.

Her debut novel, Rescuing Faith, has been a number one best seller on Amazon, and her second novel, The Waiting, is scheduled for release in early 2019.

Carol enjoys spending time with her husband, children, and grandchildren, traveling with friends, and serving in the production department at her church. And, most days in the late hours of the night or the wee hours of the morning, she can be found bringing her newest novel to life.

About Mary’s Christmas Surprise:

Mary Sherman’s Christmas is nothing like she’s planned. Her fiancé has called off the engagement just days before Christmas, and her parents have gone on an anniversary cruise around the world.

Suddenly alone for the holidays, Mary returns to the comfort of her childhood home to spend Christmas in her parents’ empty house. There’s only one problem. The house is not empty. Unbeknownst to Mary, her parents have taken in a boarder, a handsome carpenter named Jake Wolesky.

Mary’s Christmas surprise may make this the best holiday ever.

About The Waiting:

When Katherine Herrington was a teenager, she made “The List” and believed God would bring her the husband she desired. That faith helped her to keep life under control just the way she likes it. But then Katherine loses her mother, her job, and her boyfriend, and after years of praying, she accepts the probability that God’s answer is, “No.”

A professional soccer player, Sam Tucker has lived the life of a celebrity in the UK only to discover that, despite all the wealth and fame he has acquired, his life is empty. He returns to the one place where life last had meaning, and goes in search of the one woman he’s loved since he was a teenager—Katherine. He wonders if she’ll remember him after all these years… And fears she just might.

As God weaves together a rejected proposal, a mission trip, and a devastating storm to turn their hearts toward Him and toward each other, Katherine and Sam will have to let go of their fears, find forgiveness and trust, and realize that their future together was worth the wait.

 

Books, Ornaments, and a Fireplace by Tracy Ruckman

I’ve always been a book lover – from even before I could walk, I think. My family gave me books every year for gifts at Christmas, birthday, Easter, and I devoured them all.

I passed that tradition onto my kids, and now they relay memories of Christmases of “nothing but books.” I wasn’t quite that drastic, except maybe one year.

That year had been quite turbulent. We’d moved back to Georgia in the summer, and then my grandmother and my dad died during the month of December, so we were on the road a lot, trying to spend time with them in Alabama as much as possible as their cancers progressed. At my job, someone passed around some ABC gift catalogs. Their prices fit my budget, and their merchandise fit my mood and personality. They had several sets of books for both ages of my boys and they had a fun, fake, cardboard fireplace that we could assemble for our new home that didn’t have one. One order and Christmas shopping was done.

But we had a problem with the tree. All our Christmas stuff had been left behind when we moved. My sister gifted us with some beautiful homemade ornaments – toy soldiers and elves – that we still put on the tree every year. (She made us a matching wreath, too!) When my mom learned about the tradition I’d started when my boys were little, she took us shopping to help recover some of the ornaments we’d left behind.

Every year, I bought an ornament for each boy and one for our home, based on something that was relevant to each during that previous year. I’d done this tradition for four or five years, so we tried to remember each one. Mom took us to this cool Christmas store that sold thousands of different kinds of ornaments, and we were able to find several that were quite similar to those left behind, so the tradition lives on today. Basketballs, musical instruments, a camera with film, Noah’s ark – all reminiscent of their growing years. When Zach got a home of his own, I packed up his ornaments and gifted him with those, so he could carry the tradition into his own family. Jonathan asked us to keep his for awhile longer so they’re here when he spends time with us during the holidays.

Tim and I have continued the tradition, too, adding an ornament or two each year. We have city ornaments from places we’ve lived or visited, and ornaments from various milestones. Every year we laugh when we pull out the handcuffs to put on the tree. That year, I’d attended a citizen’s police academy and Tim had served a short time as a bounty hunter, so when I found some handcuffs in a toy department, I knew they were our perfect ornament for that year!

The importance of traditions is lost to us until we grow older. Traditions aren’t created and kept we want to be boring (as some of us tend to think.) Traditions are created to help us remember those extra sweet moments that tend to get crowded out by other memories.

Tracy Ruckman owns TMP Books, where she serves as book publisher, writing coach, marketing guru. She is also a talented photo artist. She loves connecting with everyone – because everyone has a story to tell. Her latest books, The Young Storyteller’s Prompt and Draw Series, encourage children to develop their storytelling skills through their own words and illustrations.

Follow Tracy on her personal blog at www.TracyRuckman.com for all the latest updates. You’ll also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. She invites you to explore her books on Amazon and discover her artwork on Zazzle and Etsy.

Pamela S. Thibodeaux shared her favorite Christmas memory last week. You can read about it here.