Family is one of the sweetest gifts of all. Remember that first family from 2,000 years ago in a stable cave on the outskirts of Bethlehem. New parents Mary and Joseph welcomed Baby Jesus into this world. Today we welcome and celebrate our own precious families made up of parents, siblings, children, or good friends. Let’s love and appreciate them everyday. This blog post is dedicated to my brother-in-law Steve who passed away suddenly last Thursday, December 14, 2017. He will be missed…and celebrated for a life well-lived in joy, love, and generosity.

Family is one of the sweetest gifts, so allow me to share a sweet family story with you. After 56 years of divorce, my 89 year-old parents now live under the same roof in a really nice retirement center. My Dad, Handsome Harry, resides in a third floor apartment, while my Mom, lovely Jeanne “of the dark brown eyes”, lives in a second floor studio apartment at the opposite end of their place. Dad had lived there several months when Mom moved in, but they hadn’t met up yet. My parents, though only married 14 years, remained friendly at family functions! One day, my sister Gail took Mom downstairs to the library.

While Mom looked at the books, a panicked aide burst into the room and said, “Gail, your dad’s in the Lobby! Do you want me to help you sneak your mom up to her room before your dad sees her?”

When Gail hesitated, Mom said, “I’d like to see Harry.” So off Mom rolled pushing her walker at top speed up the wide hallway to the Lobby.

From the opposite direction, Handsome Harry rolled his walker toward Mom. They both stopped at the nurses station in the main lobby and smiled at each other.

Dad said, “Hi Jeanne. It’s good to see you.”

Mom responded, “Hi, Harry, it’s good to see you, too. Do you remember how we used to meet for lunch at the Buckingham Fountain in Chicago and you’d sing to me? Do you still remember our special song?”

Dad said, “I sure do, Jeanne.” He began singing in his Nat King Cole/Bing Crosby voice, “It had to be you, it had to be you . . . For nobody else gave me a thrill, With all your faults, I love you still. It had to be you, wonderful you, it had to be you.”

Handsome Harry sang the entire song to Mom in front of many spectators who sighed and smiled with tear-filled eyes. (Did I mention I never knew my parents had their own special song?) But instead of “walking into the sunset,” they both rolled to a nearby bench where Mom produced her iPad and shared with Dad her family photos of kids, Grandkids, Great Grandkids, and Great Great Grandkids!

Dad asked, “Are these all ours?”

Mom said, “They sure are, Harry. Every one of them!”

Having my parents together, safe, and happy under the same roof after 56 years of divorce is a sweet gift for sure! At this Christmas time of year, let’s appreciate the precious gift of family and the sweetest gift of all which is a babe born two centuries ago in a manger. He is Immanuel, God with us. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!