I was thinking about my mom on her birthday, and realized that there was something very special about my childhood—the times we spent together. More specifically, I was thinking about the Christmases when I was small. The thing that made each memory special wasn’t the number or value of the gifts we received or the Christmas parties we attended. Rather, it was the simple things.

First there was the Christmas when we made an extra effort to do things together as a family, when we made a nativity scene in our living room out of an old board topped with miniature pine trees and figurines that we’d made and dressed ourselves.

The cold little house we lived in another year was warmed by a cassette tape of Christmas carols—a first for us children—and the joy of finding oranges in the stockings we had hung out, along with nuts and raisins wrapped in foil. That year we also had a Christmas tree with homemade ornaments depicting the fruits of the Holy Spirit—love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.1

Then there was the Christmas when I was smaller still. We strung popcorn and hung it on the tree. There was hardly any left by the end of December, for a little mouse, cleverly disguised as a three-year-old in pigtails, nibbled away whenever she thought no one was looking.

There was also the Christmas when I was nine, when we six girls awoke to a surprise—a line of white shoe boxes, each clearly marked with one of our names and each containing something special that we needed or could play with—skipping ropes, jacks, a hairbrush or hairclips, small clothing items, etc. What treats those were for us children whose parents were full-time volunteers!

Thinking about those special occasions caused me to want to give my own children that same love, excitement, and warmth this Christmas. I want them to have happy memories to look back on. That’s when I realized what it was that had made those moments so special: it was my parents’ love and the time they had given us, which demonstrated that love. It was also our parents’ faith in Jesus and God’s Word that gave us what we needed—His love and salvation and a purpose in life—reaching and winning others with God’s truth.

No, we didn’t have a lot, but we had the Lord and one another—and that’s what made those such happy and special Christmases.

  1. See Galatians 5:22–23.