Wendy Gladney (File photo)

When I think of Christmas, I always think back to the days I grew up in my grandmother’s house in Riverside.  We did not have a lot of material possessions, but we had a big family that would always come together from across the various roads of life we were traveling.    

My grandmother, also known as Mother Dear, would have lots of good down-home cooking and baked goods in the kitchen.  The house would always be warm and cozy and amid all the laughter, joy, and craziness, she would make sure we all remembered that Jesus was the true reason for the season.  

Growing up the family church we attended was called Park Avenue Missionary Baptist Church.  Our pastor was Reverend Dr. L.B. Moss and he was truly an example of a well-educated minister from the South. One of the things he and my grandparents had in common was they were graduates of the HBCU Bishop College in Texas.  

During the Christmas season, our church would always have the play about the story of the birth of Christ.  It was always every young girl’s hope and dream in our church to be the head angel that sat high above in the middle of the whole scene.   

I remember the year I was chosen.  After the service, they would pass out little gifts to the youth and for some reason, which I never really understood, they would give us small bags of fruit and nuts.  I am sure there is some history behind this tradition. Memories were created that have lasted a lifetime.  

My grandmother was truly the matriarch of our family and when she passed away, the holidays, especially Christmastime, began to change. We all continued to grow older and matriculate through life, finish college, get married, and have our own children. Some of us moved across the country and some even across the world so it was not as easy to get together.  One thing we also realized was that my grandmother’s home was our anchor.   

 Through the years, I have tried to keep the tradition going of bringing everyone together at my home for the holidays, but when COVID happened that began to dissipate.  Now, I am happy to say that others in the family my sister, my children, and cousins have picked up the banner to try to keep us all connected and most of all remembering why it is important for us to come together and celebrate the birth of Christ. 

 Times have changed and families do not always live close to one another like once upon a time. However, I encourage you to try to come together when you can, especially when it is not for a sad occasion such as the death of a loved one.  Let us rejoice in the good times and sow joy and happiness into each other as much as possible. Whatever faith or religion you may observe and practice during this time of year, let us remember to be kind to others and respect each other’s differences.  

 According to the book of St. Luke, the angel, accompanied by a heavenly host of other angels urged the people, “Peace on earth and goodwill towards all men.”   

Now more than ever, let us all try to get out of our comfort zone and practice kindness towards our fellow brothers and sisters.  From our house to yours, we wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.  


Healing Without Hate: It’s a choice. It’s a lifestyle. Pass it on. 


Visit www.WendyGladney.com and www.forgivingforliving.org to learn more. Wendy is a life strategist, coach, consultant, author, and speaker.