On December 19, 1968 I awoke early and told my father goodbye as he left for work. I even rushed to my bedroom window to watch his car leave our cul-de-sac and drive along the road out of our subdivision. I didn't usually wake up early to see my father off, but I did that day.
My mother took my baby sister and me Christmas shopping. We ended up at my grandmother's house later that day to spend the night. Long after we'd gone to bed, I was awakened by the ringing of the telephone. Though I was quite young, I realized that the late-night phone call meant my life would never be the same. My father's mortal existence had ended in a mangled heap of a car on a dark, unlit road. He was such a young man filled with so much life and vitality. He'd hardly had a chance to live. He had a promising career, a beautiful wife, and two young daughters. His funeral was on Christmas Eve.
Every year I think about my father and his short life. I think of what could have been and, of course, I wish this story had a different ending. But, I also find great hope and comfort as I celebrate the birth of the Savior. Because Jesus was born into mortality, willingly chose to lay down his life, and was then resurrected, so too will my father (and my mother, my grandparents, my father-in-law, other family members, and my friends) be resurrected. The birth and life of the Savior means that I will someday be reunited with my father and all of those I've loved and lost.
The Savior's birth makes it possible for me to someday have the family I didn't have in mortality. Yes, it's been hard not having my parents. Yes, it makes me sad that they both died before they could see and know my children in mortality. Yes, I've often wished to build a time machine to go back and know my parents. But, in the eternal scheme of things, time is only relative. The significance of the birth of Jesus transcends time and heals the aching heart.
His birth means that I can have an eternal family and that brings me incredible peace and joy.