Christmas Memories

Dear Readers, I’m sharing this post from Heart”wings” blog where it was first posted on Christmas Day. Since it’s a personal story about the passing of my grandmother, I also wanted to share it with you here. If you’re missing a loved one at this time of year, I pray this story will be comforting. Wishing you all a blessed Christmas season!

Merry Christmas! May I wish you a joyous day, as all around the world we celebrate the birth of Christ.  I would love to share a special Christmas memory with you on today’s Monday Memories.

Let’s turn back the clocks to Christmas Eve afternoon, 1977. My parents and I were busy making traditional preparations for our family’s celebration. Glittering presents tied with shiny bows tumbled in piles beneath a sparkling tree. Fireplaces crackled out warmth from blazing logs. Mantles displayed holy crèche scenes inside nests of pine boughs and twinkle lights. The kitchen bulged with Christmas stöllens and cakes, smoked turkeys, hams, and all the trimmings for tomorrow’s big dinner.

Our routine included attending a Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, followed by dinner at a restaurant. After returning home, we would open presents—a tradition passed down from my father’s family.

But this season unveiled an alarming surprise. Two days earlier, my mother and I drove to a hospital in Morehead, Kentucky, where my maternal grandmother had been admitted to ICU.  My grandparents had just moved to our family’s farm, and this happened to be the closest hospital emergency room.

Christmas Memories by Karen JurgensWe parked, walked to a red-brick building on a street corner, and climbed the cement steps to the front entrance. Once inside, we located an elevator and rode to the second floor. Tiptoeing down an antiseptic hallway, we spied a door with a sign that read ICU, and beyond, a hospital bed where Grandmother lay.

Her face shone, despite having survived a major heart attack. Rosy-cheeked, her lips tipped up to smile as she shared her good news. The doctor claimed she was doing well and, at her current rate of improvement, announced she should be able to go home shortly after Christmas.

Relief flooded through all of us. She was going to survive. At seventy-five, she was still young compared to family members who lived well into their nineties. Up to that point, all ten of her siblings were still living.

Christmas Memories by Karen Jurgens

After a short visit, we left the hospital the same way we had entered and drove home. On that cold, golden evening, we admired the forested hills, almost bare of their autumn leaves. Peace enveloped our hearts in the flickering sunset—God’s whisper that the situation was under His control. We could trust Him. Grandmother would live.

On Christmas Eve Day, we kept a close eye on the clock. One last job before leaving for church involved arranging luminaries around the driveway. As we lighted them, my dad appeared at the front door and called my mother to the telephone. The message that came through the wire would permanently change our lives.

Through the receiver echoed the words, “Mom’s gone … Mom’s gone!” My grandfather’s sorrow announced his wife’s unexpected departure for her heavenly home.

We were stunned … shocked.  Our upcoming celebration halted. Rather than enjoying that night’s traditions, my mother made phone calls. Instead of opening presents, we prepared for a funeral. The Lord carried our family on His wings of grace through those hard days.

But that’s not the end of the story.

After the doctor’s report had sparked hope that the crisis was over, my grandfather and two of my great-aunts left the ICU for a much-needed shower and a good night’s sleep. So, for about twenty-four hours, Grandmother was alone.

That no one had been present at her hour of death shrouded everyone’s heart with deep regret, especially my mother’s. But how could anyone have known? Still, she wrestled with her conscience and found it difficult to forgive herself.

In her sorrow, God answered one day when she was in prayer, The Lord reminded her of a vivid dream He had given her in 1969. In it, she remembered she had seen that same red brick building, elevator, and visiting her sick mother on the second floor. But the dream added one extra element. After she left, crystal-clear water, symbolizing death, poured out the front door and washed down the steps.

Neither in the dream, nor in reality had she been present with her mother at the time of death,

God had drawn back the curtains of the future eight years ahead of time, allowing her to take a peek. No arguing against God’s perfect plan. After she understood the dream’s deeper meaning, her guilt lifted.

Although every Christmas Eve is bittersweet, God is amazing. His lovingkindness to us is boundless, and our sweet memories comfort us as we carry on our holiday traditions to celebrate Jesus’s birth.

Is someone special to you missing this Christmas Day?

Today let’s draw on God’s infinite comfort, realizing our loved ones are in heaven, waiting for us. As we gather our families and friends close this Christmas Day, let’s bask in the hope of God’s perfect gift, His Son. Sent to be our Savior, this Babe in the manger brings us joy and peace in the midst of our circumstances. Let’s make room in our hearts to receive Jesus and His eternal gift of salvation.

 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 

‘Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’ ~ Luke 2:8-14, NKJV


Christmas Memories by Karen Jurgens