by Brenda Blank
Christmas is full of tradition at our house. It starts with Christmas music in July, “Exterior Illumination” in early November, and Christmas trees in nearly every room of our house by Thanksgiving. You can imagine the confused faces of any friends who show up for Thanksgiving dinner only to be surrounded by evergreens dripping with glistening ornaments and sparkling lights.
With all the Christmastime activities, decorations, and preparations, there is one thing we do at our house that really brings the holiday celebration into focus for our family. Without this one sacred tradition, Christmas wouldn’t be the same. On Christmas morning, before we even open a single beautifully-wrapped present or overstuffed stocking, we gather in the family room with seven children, a son-in-law, grandparents, and an uncle. Taking up all available space in the already overflowing room, we all crowd around, ready to listen to the chronicle of Christmas.
This tradition began when our oldest son, Ryan, had just learned to read. He practiced and practiced reading the Christmas story out of a beginner’s Bible until the big day finally arrived. With Dad, Mom, two younger brothers, and grandparents looking on, he read to us all the story of God sending His Son, Jesus, into the world through humble circumstances and fulfilling prophecy of the long-awaited Savior. As he read about the angels appearing to the lowly shepherds, I thought about the message of hope and salvation being delivered to our own humble gathering. Most of us were still in our pajamas with our hair a mess. I thought especially about how grateful I was that two thousand years later this message of hope was still the greatest news we’ve heard. Hearing this message proclaimed by my son to our family was the best way to focus on the true meaning of Christmas.
The sparkling decorations, beautiful music, and delicious foods are all a prelude leading up to the reading of the Christmas story at our house. Whether read out of a story Bible by a struggling reader, or eloquently read from the King James Version, being reminded of the gift God gave to us, His Son Jesus Christ, is the best way to celebrate Christmas.