Her mother had never been able to get through to Aunt Ann, so why did she feel she’d have better luck?

So she went to visit her, and was told, “I think you’d better leave, Diana.”

So perhaps she should have stayed home herself.

* * * * *

Diana watched the snow sift softly down from the gray sky, melting as rapidly as it touched the ground. Turning from the window to her husband, Craig, she said sadly: “I received the usual refusal from Aunt Ann to spend Christmas with us today.”

“You expected that, didn’t you?”

She moved to a chair and sat down. “I keep hoping she’ll accept. You know, Craig, I just think I’ll drive up to Council City and see her. Maybe I can convince her we want to be friends.”

Craig shook his head. “Don’t suppose it will do much good. Your Mom never succeeded.”

Diana frowned. “Wouldn’t you think she would have forgiven Mother after all these years? Mom grieved so long about it. I can’t let it go on even though Mom is gone now. She’s my only aunt.”

Craig laid down the paper he was reading. “I never did fully understand the situation.”

“I don’t know myself—except it started out when Mother didn’t approve of a young man Aunt Ann was interested in and told her so. One thing led to another.”

“Your aunt never married?”

“No, but it wasn’t because of their disagreement over the young man—he turned out rather badly. She chose a career, and I think was happy as a librarian until her retirement. I only saw her twice—once at a cousin’s funeral, and once when I went with Mother to see her. I’ll never forget the tongue lashing we got.”

“Sounds like a lost cause to me, dear. Give up.”

Diana stuck out her chin. “No! There must be a way to touch her heart.”

The next day after the children, Lisa and Kevin, were off to school and Craig went to work, she drove to Council City, a three-hour drive. I should have gone to see her when I first learned she was living so close. I’m going to be just as stubborn as Aunt Ann!

Council City was small so Diana had no difficulty in locating her aunt’s small neat bungalow. She rang the doorbell, and the door was opened by a tall, gray-haired woman resembling her mother, though younger.

At first the older woman drew back. “Oh, didn’t you receive my note? You—you are Diana?”

“Yes, to both questions. May I come in?”

“I—I don’t know,” she stumbled over her words. Then she said politely, “Come in, Diana, but don’t expect me to accept your invitation.”

“Oh, Auntie, you can’t still be bitter.”

“Sit down please,” she said. “It’s—just too late.”

“No, no, it isn’t. We need you, Aunt Ann.”

After a moment’s hesitation, she answered in a cold, hollow voice, “No one needs me.” She moved slowly over to the window. “All the resentment—years of it; it’s no use now.”

“You’d love my family. Give them a chance.”

“It’s best the way things are,” she said bitterly, “I think perhaps you should leave, Diana.”

Diana leaned back in the chair. “Not until you tell me you’ll think about our invitation. I’ll wait!”

A sliver of a smile appeared on her aunt’s face. “I see there’s a bit of stubbornness in you, too.”

“You’ve met your match, Aunt Ann—I hope mine is tempered with love.”

The woman’s face flushed. “Good day, Diana.”

“You’ll think about it?”

Aunt Ann threw up her hands. “All right, I’ll think about it, but thinking and acting are two different things.”

Driving home, Diana reviewed their conversation. I shouldn’t have said my stubbornness was tempered with love—I’m sure I hurt her saying that. Well, I’m not giving up!

Craig and the children met her at the door when she returned. “How did things go?”

“Not real good, or bad either.”

Craig laughed. “Now that takes some explaining. Is she coming or isn’t she?”

Diana shrugged. “She’s going to think about it.,”

“Mom, that sounds great,” Kevin said.

“At least encouraging,” Lisa added.

“I’m so glad I went. She said she had built up resentment. I think she’s more angry at herself than any of us.”

Craig looked serious. “Resentment can eat away all reason. It’s not easy to say, ‘I was wrong.’ I’ll bet she’ll come.”

“Oh, I pray so. Think I’ll write her a note letting her know we’re expecting her.”

“She’ll be here, Mom,” Kevin assured her.

But the day of Christmas Eve, she didn’t come. Diana met every bus from Council City. “She’s not coming,” she said sadly after the last bus had unloaded.

“Someday you’ll win,” Craig assured her. “Just stick in there.”

“Maybe she missed the bus,” Kevin said.

“I don’t think so.”

It was late evening when they returned home. Craig put another log on the fire, then sat down in his special chair and reached for the Bible as they all seated themselves. He began to read from Second Luke of the first Christmas Eve. Several times Diana went to the window thinking she heard a noise outside. Each time, no one was there. Then just as Craig was about to finish, a light knock came at the door. Diana ran to the entrance. Aunt Ann was standing there nervously holding her suitcase.

“Oh, Auntie, you came,” Diana cried.

“I—I rode down with a friend.”

Diana threw her arms around her and pulled her inside. “We’re so happy. Come meet the family.”

After introductions, Kevin picked up her suitcase, and said, “I’ll take this to your room. Want to come with me?”

“Thank you,” she said without moving. “I—I guess you’re wondering why I decided——.”

“It doesn’t matter, Auntie, you’re here.”

Still she hesitated. “I thought you only pitied me.” Her voice broke. “Then your note came.” Apparently to gain composure, she jokingly added, “I wanted to get to know my match better—and maybe temper my stubbornness with—with—.”

“Oh, Auntie,” Diana hugged her again. “Welcome!”

“That goes for all of us,” Craig added.

After Kevin had taken her to the guest room, Craig slipped his arm around Diana’s waist and smiled down at her. “What magic did you use, darling? I mean, in that note.”

She smiled back at him. “No magic, dear—just something the One whose birthday we are celebrating tonight taught—love one another. I simply told her how much I loved her. It’s strange, I never told her that before—guess I just assumed she knew how much she meant to me.”

Craig squeezed her hand. “If only all people could accept that beautiful truth.”

“I know,” she said. “It’s so true—love opens doors.”

“No matter how tightly the doors were closed,” he added.

“A Christmas Invitation,” by Helen H. Trutton. Published in Christmas in My Heart® 25. Used by permission of Joe Wheeler, editor/compiler, and Pacific Press Publishing Association.