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Fitness is its own reward, I guess, but the chance to people-watch makes the prospect of walking my neighborhood so much more appealing. Scenes like the following, for instance, make that last .75-mile loop through the private drive worthwhile.

Wheels crunching, an SUV with Minnesota plates whips into the driveway of a house wearing yards of Christmas jewelry, and, before the engine even stops knocking, a senior adult couple, snow-capped and bright, tumbles out.

“Come on! Hurry up,” the woman whisper-shouts, motioning to her husband. Shoulders high, eyebrows raised, lipsticked smile wide open, she looks like a child wearing grandmother clothes.

“I’m coming.” Just as excited as she, her husband, lanky and hunched, rounds the hood and takes her hand.

Laughing absently, the two practically scurry to the center of the front porch, take a collective breath, and ring the bell.

I pause to tie my shoe, of course.

To the couple’s obvious glee, a happy ruckus ensues inside the home. Squeals, laughter, and the low murmur of a male voice approach from the backside of the door.

Focusing just below the doorknob, the eager couple waits for the door to open.

“We’re here!” they cry in unison as a much younger version of the older man opens the door with a sleepy smile.

“Grandma! Grandpa!” a little boy shouts just a split second before leaping high into Grandpa’s strong arms. Grandpa laughs and murmurs something funny as he buries his face in the little boy’s neck. Content, Grandpa rocks the child back and forth, anticipation melting into pure joy.

“Ellie?” Grandma calls softly, taking a knee. Smiling, she reaches out, hoping.

There, in the center of the doorway, Ellie stands, almond eyes wide, jaw dropped in shock. Scarcely bigger than the oversized Iron Man figure hanging stiff by her side, the pajama-clad tot looks every bit the part of Cindy Lou Who, the cartoon, wispy hair and all.

“It’s Grandma,” Ellie’s father coaxes, nudging the back of her tiny head with his fingers. Like a bobble-head doll, Ellie resists and stands her ground. For a moment, it looks as if she might cry, and my heart begins to break for Grandma.

“We told you we would come,” Grandma coos softly, dropping her arms just a bit. “Remember?”

Tilting her head, Ellie considers. Everyone waits.

Hopeful, Grandma reaches out once more. “Well, we’re here, just like we promised.”

With the hint of a smile, Ellie looks to her father for encouragement. Upon his fervent nod, she drops the doll with a clatter and scoots quickly into her grandmother’s embrace. Giggling, the two melt into a wiggly, happy cuddle, and all is right with the world.

Shoe tied, I hurry on, blessed and a little less winded.

My thoughts turn quickly to you.

Jesus Christ has come, dear one, just like the Father promised. Having reconciled the world to Himself through His death on the cross and resurrection from the grave, our Savior stands ready to receive those who surrender their hearts to Him fully. In Him, we have salvation. In Him, you will find peace. May God grant you the faith to believe. Merry Christmas!

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in…” (Rev. 3:20).