Published 10:23 am Tuesday, December 1, 2020

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My parents were born one day apart in a small town in Pennsylvania. They were born in late November so sometimes their birthdays fall on Thanksgiving weekend. Over the years, because their birthdays fell near Thanksgiving, I often missed seeing them on their big day. This year we were lucky that the two celebrations were at different times.

Doug Creamer writes a religion column for the SNAP.

My dad likes to get as many of the kids and their spouses together for a nice dinner out. Well, that wasn’t going to happen this year. We planned a nice dinner, take out, at my brother’s house. The food was great and it was a nice time to honor my dad.

My brother always strives to create a memory that will be something special to carry the rest of your life. This year he created a list of questions that we would each have to answer so we would learn something about one another. We shared plenty of laughs, but also some great memories from each other’s lives. Even though we are family, we sometimes miss special moments in each other’s lives. Hearing those stories in the context of love made for a very special evening, indeed.

Over the years we have done many different things for my mom. One year, when my mom was living up in Virginia, my sister and I drove up to her house and took her out for dinner. It was a very special time we had together, sharing plenty of love and laughter. My sister and I got to spend some great time together in the car, talking and sharing non-stop.

This year we gathered at my mom’s house and shared a delicious home-cooked meal, prepared by my sister. It was special having us all together, sharing some laughs and hearing more about each other’s lives. After we ate, we helped my mom set up her Christmas tree. My mom loves Christmas and it was fun to help her get the tree set up.

I am thankful that my family remains close even though we are all separated by many miles. My parents have four children. There are 12 grandchildren, many of whom are now married with children of their own. I have lost count of how many we have now, and there are more on the way. It’s amazing that this big family all started with two people, my parents.

No family is perfect, but we are still family and we are there for each other. I know that many of you have just spent some time with your family over the Thanksgiving holiday. Hopefully, you were able to enjoy some great food, good fellowship, safe travel and no sickness. I hate that COVID could mess up so many holiday traditions that involve spending time with family and loved ones. Hopefully, we can all discover ways around it and stay safe, too.

It is so important that we keep and maintain the connection we have with each other. It isn’t the same if you do it over the phone or through video calls, but it still allows you to connect. Sometimes video calls are the only way to connect when you are miles apart.

My pastor always likes to share a meal with people. There is something about sitting around a table and just talking that builds bonds. Jesus did it with His disciples. It allows you to be close, to connect on many different levels. Often barriers fall and hearts become more open. There is a kind of intimacy that you experience when you share a meal.

I know that COVID has thrown a wrench in many holiday plans. If you can’t have a large family gathering, try to have several small ones, perhaps outdoors. If you do, you can spread the celebration out and still enjoy family connections. Sharing the meals, the laughs and those stories you have heard over and over again, should be cherished; they are memories for a lifetime.

I want to encourage you to enter this holiday season with joy in your heart. Follow the guidelines, but don’t allow the circumstances to squash the spirit of this wonderful season. Eat the food, enjoy the fellowship — however you have to do it — share some laughs, tell some new stories and make this a holiday season you will always remember. It’s about family, friends, faith and hope. It’s about God’s great love for us and us sharing that with each other.

This holiday season, regardless of the circumstances, share the love and hope that is in your heart.

Contact Doug Creamer at PO Box 777, Faith, NC 28041 or