by Annette Bridges. ©2008. All rights reserved.

There’s something about Christmas that has always brought dreams of all that I longed and hoped for.

And it seems I’m not the only one who’s had Christmas dreams. Clara dreamed of her Nutcracker Prince coming to life. Children had visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads. And others dreamed of home and a white Christmas. And everyone undoubtedly hopes the dreams they dare to dream today will come true!

Twenty-nine years ago Karen Carpenter sang words that resonated with my girlish dreams: “Merry Christmas, darling. We’re apart, that’s true. But I can dream and in my dreams I’m Christmasing with you.”

Even though I had not yet met my darling, I remember trying to imagine him — along with the day we would meet.

It was a “different” holiday season for me that year. My mother had remarried, and suddenly all of our family traditions were changed. I came home from college, only to leave again with my mother and her new husband to spend Christmas at his mother’s house along with his children.

It was Christmas Eve. Everyone had gone to bed, and I was trying to sleep on the sofa in front of the Christmas tree. I had just nestled in for the long winter’s night when the Carpenter’s song played on the radio.

I pondered how different this Christmas was from the previous year that I had spent mostly with my boyfriend’s family. We had broken up since then, and once again I was dreaming of when I would meet the man of my dreams.

Christmas in any age brings the promise of dreams fulfilled. I can’t think about the coming of the promised Messiah without being encouraged and strengthened by hope and grand expectations. So my dreams for love in my life were grounded in the knowledge that God’s unconditional and boundless love for His children could not help but mean my life would be filled with love.

I was learning to accept my mom’s marriage because I yearned very much for her to be happy, and I certainly wished her life to be filled with love, too.

Granted, I knew companionship and love could be expressed in many ways — not only in the form of a husband. Since the break-up with my boyfriend, I was rekindling friendships I had neglected, trying to be a good “big sister” to younger dorm mates, spending more time with family members and doing community service. So I wasn’t feeling lonely.

That Christmas Eve I was not merely longing for the day I would meet my dream man but looking forward to that day — a day I felt was soon to come. My dreams were packed with conviction and confidence.

One lesson I had learned well taught me that expectation of good enables one to recognize good when it appears. That same lesson taught me when one is gloomy and depressed, it is possible to miss the good that may be right in front of you.

I was quite certain that our heavenly Father promises our dreams will come true. Maybe not always in the exact way we imagine but always better than we dream. This is, of course, because God’s plan for good is always grander than our often limited vision.

I did meet the man of my dreams about six months later. And we met in the most unexpected way and moment. I could never have dreamed it! By Christmas Eve, we were announcing our engagement. That was twenty-eight years ago this year!

Don’t give up on your dreams, my friends. Keep your faith strong and certain. Change is sometimes needed in order for the best to come along. May all your Christmas dreams come true this Christmas and the whole year through.