It’s Christmas Eve, and I’m sitting in my in-law’s wood-heated house, cozy in my pajamas, apple pie baking in the oven, Christmas music playing in the background, cousins playing happily (or not so happily, depending on the moment).

We will not have a white Christmas this year. Last night we had an ice storm, but today the temperature has warmed so that all that falls from the sky is rain. Somehow that seems appropriate this year.

While we are enjoying our time with my husband’s family, unspoken in every moment is the massive gaping hole where Elli should be. We talk about her now and then, we think about the parts of the celebrating she loved, my eyes linger on the photos of her.

Enjoying a snow day last winter

So rain seems fitting this year. I don’t plan to cry all day tomorrow. I don’t plan to cry much, actually. We are, by the grace of God, able to enjoy the excitement of our children and our niece. We are very thankful to be spending the time with family, not alone.

But most importantly, we can remember that 2000 years ago, God put on flesh, entered time and space, and joined a poor family in the tiny nation of Israel. Jesus, God the Son, was born to live a holy and sinless life, pay the debt we owe for our unholy and sinful lives, and ultimately conquer death and sin for us. I appreciate His victory over death and hell so much now that one of my children has tasted death. Praise God for His mercy, for this indescribable gift!