Although your Christmas tree decorations will include many new gadgets, such as lights with bubbles in them . . . it's the old tree decorations that mean the most . . . the ones you save carefully from year to year . . . the crooked star that you've been so careful with.
And you'll bring out the tiny manger, and the shed, and the little figures of the Holy Family . . . and lovingly arrange them on the mantel or in the middle of the dining room table.
And getting the tree will be a family event, with great excitement for the children . . .
And there will be a closet into which you will forbid your husband to look, and he will be moving through the house mysteriously with bundles under his coat, and you'll pretend not to notice . . .
There will be a fragrance of cookies baking, spices, and fruitcake . . . and the warmth of the house shall be melodious with the lilting strains of 'Silent Night, Holy Night.'
And you'll listen to the wonderful Christmas music on the radio. Some of the songs will be modern - good enough music perhaps - but it will be the old carols, the lovely old Christmas hymns, that will mean the most.
And forests of fir trees will march right into our living rooms . . . There will be bells on our doors and holly wreaths in our windows . . .
And we shall sweep the Noel skies for their brightest colors and festoon our homes with stars.
There will be a chubby stocking hung by the fireplace . . . and with finger to lip you will whisper and ask me to tip-toe, for a little tousled head is asleep and must not be awakened.
And finally Christmas morning will come. Don't worry -- you'll be ready for it -- You'll catch the spirit all right, or it will catch you, which is even better.
And then you will remember what Christmas means - the beginning of Christianity . . . the Second Chance for the world . . . the hope for peace . . . and the only way.
The promise that the angels sang is the most wonderful music the world has ever heard. 'Peace on earth and good will toward men.'
It was not a pronouncement upon the state of the world then, nor is it a reading of the international barometer of present time . . . but it is a promise -- God's promise -- of what will come to pass.
The years that are gone are graveyards in which all the persuasions of men have crumbled into dust. If history has any voice, it is to say that all these ways of men lead nowhere. There remains only one way -- The Way -- untried, untested, unexplored fully . . . the way of Him Who was born a Babe in Bethlehem.
In a world that seems not only to be changing, but even to be dissolving, there are tens of millions of us who want Christmas to be the same . . . with the same old greeting 'Merry Christmas' and no other. We long for the abiding love among men of good will which the season brings . . . believing in this ancient miracle of Christmas with its softening, sweetening influence to tug at our heart strings once again.
We want to hold on to the old customs and traditions because they strengthen our family ties, bind us to our friends, make us one with all mankind for whom the Child was born, and bring us back again to the God Who gave His only begotten son, that 'whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.'
nor 'observe' Christmas.
We will 'keep' Christmas -- keep it as it is . . .
in all loveliness of its ancient traditions.
May we keep it in our hearts,
that we may be kept in its hope.
(From a sermon delivered by Reverend Dr. Peter Marshall (1902-1949), who twice served as Chaplain of the United States Senate)