My technically savvy father left me the precious gift of time travel—a DVD of family Christmas movies covering almost 30 years! For two hours we work our way forward from the late 1950’s in California to the mid 1980’s in Oregon. It is a joy to watch my brothers and me grow up around Christmas trees. The trees, decorations, and mounds of wrapping paper are the constants. Everything else, as Dylan sang, ‘These times, they are a changing.’

Locations change . . . It becomes a “contest” to see how quickly we can recognize the location of each Christmas celebration. Lafayette, Lake Oswego, Vancouver, Canby—whose home is this?

Gifts change . . . Bicycles and football uniforms give way to toaster ovens, coffee pots and tools. Styles that thrilled me a few decades ago make us laugh aloud. Amidst the obsolescence, I notice the homemade gifts are still treasures. Macramé wall hangings, quilts, and Roo bags are still with us. In one segment, each family unwraps wooden coat racks made by my brother Brian. Whenever we move, our coat rack goes with us.

Styles change . . . Jeans were rolled up, then bell bottoms dragged on the floor with sideburns to the jaw line! Mini-skirts, l-o-n-g hair, short hair, and even blond hair! What were we thinking?

We change. . . Boyfriends disappear one by one until Dan appears—my rock. Little brothers become men, husbands (a wedding clip!) and fathers. Dad becomes gray, and hairlines recede—a family trait.

Babies come. . . A son appears on the screen as a toddler bouncing about in eager curiosity. Soon we laugh at the antics of his red-headed sister. Tender feelings rush in for the little ones who are now grown and so capable. Eagerly we watch for their faces to turn toward the camera and too bright lights, so we can treasure the joy of their childhoods for another moment. A nephew appears on the screen as a baby; our family joyfully explodes with adoption, and then another nephew.

And we go. . . At first we delight to see my grandmother’s smile again and recognize those familiar mannerisms. It is a silent movie, but I can hear her voice in my head. Mom and Dad have gone on ahead as well. They were not perfect, but we miss them. It is a joy to remember the good times; our hearts are tender toward these dear faces. Seeing Dad’s head thrown back in laughter one more time seems almost a foretaste of heaven.

Love remains. . . Love is the real Christmas gift that does not leave us, change, grow old, wear out, or go out of style. His name is Jesus.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. I Corinthians 13: 13

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. I John 4:16  b.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8