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Sending Christmas greetings a day early so we can focus on what’s most important tomorrow.

With everything the season’s been culminating toward just a single night’s sleep away, what child sleeps well on Christmas Eve?

Growing up, the time off school, the Christmas parties, the drives to see lights, the visit to Santa and the midnight church service peaked with me lying in bed on Christmas Eve, staring up at the darkened ceiling, my mind spinning about the following morning.

As the first rays of dawn cut through the curtain, the promise of unimaginable surprises propelled me from the cocoon of blankets. I’d race around our house, waking my siblings and parents.

We’d go downstairs as a family, turn the corner into a family room, and be in awe of the transformation. The lights on the tree would shimmer off the wrapping paper, stocking hung on the chimney with care would now rest on the floor, the weight of goodies too great for the overmatched masking tape. The cookies we laid out for Santa, absent; the milk we set nearby to refresh him, empty; the carrots we placed on a plate for the reindeer, gone.

Yup. It was official. Santa had made it to our house!

Before diving into the stocking and presents, though, there was one family tradition that needed to take place. Dad would get our family bible and flip through until he found Luke, chapter 2. As he searched for it, and with the glittering presents beckoning me, I remember asking why we had to do this. “Can’t we just open the presents?”

“John,” he replied.  “This is why we celebrate this season in the first place. Nothing matters without what you’re about to read. One day, you’ll understand.”

And with that, Dad handed the bible to my oldest brother Jim who read a paragraph. He then handed it to my sister, Cadey, who read a paragraph. Then onto Amy, and me, and Susan and Laura.

There are so many incredible memories from Christmas growing up. But of all the presents received, all the parties attended, and all the experiences we had, the greatest gift my parents gave was that time with my siblings, gathered in a circle, reading scripture together and hearing the words, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Decades removed from those Christmas mornings and now with my own family, responsibilities, and obligations, we have our own traditions for Christmas morning.

And yet there is one we borrow directly from my parents. Our kids sit together, usually on the staircase, and before we check for presents or stockings or half-eaten carrots, we pause to read from Luke. We pause long enough to be reminded what we are celebrating in the first place.

And although our kids sometimes gripe about the delay, I’m able to quote their grandfather to them: this is why we celebrate this season in the first place. Nothing matters without what you’re about to read. One day, you’ll understand.

My friends, regardless of where or with whom you celebrate Christmas tomorrow, or if you celebrate Christmas at all, I hope the words, “Do not be afraid,” aren’t just words in someone else’s story, but a proclamation that positively elevates your life, fills your day with the thrill of hope and reminds you that the best is yet to come.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas tomorrow and a happy holiday season. 

22 replies on “Our Most Important Holiday Tradition”

Thank you so much for the needed reminder. He is the real reason for the season. God bless you richly throughout the new year!

I begin for sharing your endearing thoughts. If the person praying for her daughters third heart surgery, we join you in prayer. Continue to believe that GOD’s answer to prayer is not “no or yes”, it is ‘I’M WITH YOU THRU IT ALL AND WILL THE SAME SUCCESSFUL OUTCOME THAT YOU DO…LET US PRAY FOR THE SURGEON’S WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE.” AND, IF I MAY, NEVER THINK THAT THE BIRTH OF JESUS THE CHRIST WAS TO LEAD TO HIS CRUCIFIXION. IT WAS MAN’S INHUMANITY TO HUMANITY. STILL TO TODAY, IF SOMEONE WANTS SOMEONE OUT OF THE WAY, THEY FIND A WAY TO SILENCE THAT PERSON…..EVEN TO SILENCE GOD, (EMANUEL) BECOMING ONE LIKE US TO TELL US HE EXISTS, LOVES US AND FORGIVES US IF WE ASK. THEY DID NOT UNDERSTAND AND GOD FORGAVE THEM TOO BECAUSE THEY DID NOT KNOW WHAT THEY DID. JESUS HAD TO DIE BECAUSE ISSIAH FORETOLD THAT THEY WOULD KILL HIM….NOT TO DIE SO THAT A FATHER WOULD FORGIVE OUR SINS. WISDOM TELLS US THAT GOD DOES NOT DESIRE THE DEATH OF ANYONE, BELIEVE THIS AND ONE WILL NEVER FEAR GOD.

John I have been busy so late to reply, but truly you and your family are our inspirational!!
This is the greatest of news to share with all!!
Thank you so much for all you do and remind us of what we need to do all year long!!!

Thank You for sharing! Hope everyone was a healthy and fun & exciting filled new year going forward. Reach for the stars they are closer than you think !

Thank You John. You continue to inspire everyday and this story is simply another in your long list. I love you and there is nothing you can do about it.

What a beautiful reminder of why we celebrate Christmas! Those faithful traditions passed down to generations are priceless. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Merry Christmas, John and to your family! May the Lord bestow upon you the blessings that you have bestowed upon us this year!! I’m so looking forward to seeing the new On Fire movie! Congratulations on completing the movie!

I hope you and your family have a wonderful, blessed Christmas. And we already know that 2024 brings a lot of fun and excitement for you. Your posts bring me peace and joy, so thank you, John.

Merry Christmas John, your family and your team. Appreciate the gift you give us every week. I look forward to them. Blessed New Year💜

Thanks for this important reminder. If I may be so bold, there is a family in Denver with an empty chair for Christmas. Prayers for Jeff, Shyla, and Sydney who are mourning the loss of a ray of light we knew as Shawn.

Thanks John and Merry Christmas to you and your family! I love that you and your family read the most important reading in Luke’s gospel.

Thanks for sharing this message & tradition. Merry Christmas to you & your family, especially your Dad who set a wonderful example.

I love this message: Do not be afraid and the best is yet to come. I needed that. Our daughter is waiting for open heart surgery her third, age 32 and this time to replace a valve also. I do fear for the future eventhough I do trust in God. I appreciate you sharing about reading from the Bible.

Paula, we pray with you for your daughter. And for her surgeon to be successful with this next surgery. Paula, GOD does not answer our prayers with a “yes or no”, GOD says to you “I AM WITH YOU AND YOUR DAUGHTER THROUGH IT ALL AND I WILL THE SAME SUCCESS THAT YOU DO”. Continue to believe that, regardless of the outcome, GOD is on your and her side and hopes for the best. In Wisdom in the Old Testament, it says, “GOD DESIRES THE DEATH OF NO ONE”…..May you and your daughter find it to be a good New Year

John – like yourself I was blessed by a Father who instilled a similar legacy for my brother and I growing up that we have been blessed to pass down to our children and now our grandchildren. And while my father is no longer physically present with us as we read the Christmas story together, I’m confident that he and our Heavenly Father are smiling from above and was celebrate the true meaning of Christmas…

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