Christmas morning usually brings about a parental role reversal in our house. Consistently, our children have taken it upon themselves to lead an energetic charge of figurative reveille, minus the bugle. Their sole purpose is to get two very tired parents out of bed. Some day they will understand. Some day we will miss this morning ritual that happens once a year.
In more recent years, we have imposed a rule that Christmas can’t come until 7:00 AM. No buts. The rule mostly works, with a few minor glitches. Our kids may not wake us up deliberately, but we can usually hear their voices just outside our bedroom door, watching the clock and giggling with anticipation. It provides us an opportunity to be slightly disappointed about missing that last 15 minutes of craved-for sleep. But then a smile dawns on our faces, knowing that one of our favorite days of the year has arrived. With a mix of reluctance and excitement, we get out of bed.
Amidst the pleasant anxiety in the air, the morning has a few other procedures of policy that are to be followed carefully. Mom and Dad are the first to go downstairs to the living room. Press conference cameras have to be ready and in position to capture one more memory that will fade all too fast. One of us will take the still shot and the other will take video. We try not to hide behind the cameras too much. There is something to be said about living in the moment rather than always anticipating the future or remembering the past. Still, preserving the past for some future re-run of memories has given us great satisfaction from time to time.
Under the Christmas tree is an “urban sprawl” display of presents. Numbers multiply quickly in a family of seven. It doesn’t take much to cover the small floor of our living room with gifts of affection. The family presents that have been under the tree for days take a back seat to the wrapped presents left by Santa. (I have it on good authority that Santa really likes the cookies and milk the kids leave for him. I wonder about the carrots left for Rudolph.) After the “Santa presents” have been unearthed and enjoyed, we take a break to indulge in a family tradition of eating orange flavored sweet rolls. Properly fed and satisfied, we go back and open gifts given to each other.
Christmas morning has always been beautiful. It is a golden moment that has never left us disappointed. There is a beautiful glow that emanates from each of our children, and not just the Christmas tree lights. They are happy, excited, full of gratitude and love. Liz and I cherish these few remaining Christmas moments with our children at home. There is a greater reluctance to move on as our children unavoidably approach adulthood. In not many years they will be starting families and traditions of their own. This expectation makes it easier to give up the craved-for sleep that we could use a little more of now.
There is one procedure of policy that I didn’t mention in regard to our Christmas morning procession. It is small but essential to our household. Our children have come to accept it because it is just what we do. After Mom and Dad are aroused and have offered our own personal prayers, we invite the children into our bedroom to read from the scriptures. Their own scriptures are ready and waiting for them, prepared the night before. The presents under the tree can wait a little longer. We usually read some passages about the birth of the Savior Jesus Christ, and the love of God. Granted, there is only so much that can be discussed when the mind is distracted by the unknown wonder of what is waiting in the living room. But, first things first, we set the table of our hearts with proper etiquette and place settings. Turning on the brilliant light in our hearts on this special day illuminates everything else we do. We then pray as a family, thanking Father for another wonderful year and for the many, many blessings He has given us. With these preparations complete, we are ready to go down and enjoy the morning.
Regarding the advent of the first coming of Jesus Christ, the apostle John recorded, “In the beginning was the gospel preached through the Son. And the gospel was the word, and the word was with the Son, and the Son was with God, and the Son was of God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made which was made. In him was the gospel, and the gospel was the life, and the life was the light of men; And the light shineth in the world, and the world perceiveth it not.” (JST John 1:1-5)
The Son, who was with the Father and created all things, consented to be born on earth as a little babe in a stable. Jesus did this for us to provide us with brilliant light – the light of His life, the light of His example, and the light of His love. He gave us everything He had so that we might have life eternal with Him. His very life was a gift to us.
Jesus is “the true light, which lighteth every man who cometh into the world; Even the Son of God.” He was “made flesh, and sent unto us by the will of the Father, And as many as believe on his name shall receive of his fulness. And of his fullness have all we received, even immortality and eternal life, through his grace.” (JST John 1:10, 16)
“John the Baptist bore record, “He received a fulness of truth, yea, even of all truth; And no man receiveth a fulness unless he keepeth his commandments. He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things.” (D&C 93:26-28) We give glory to God, when we forsake the evil one and choose the light instead.
The first advent of the Savior was as soft as the light of a star lighting upon the ground. That was His season to come in meekness and humility. We feel His love, and then we share it. In return we feel more love from Him and from others. The gift of love provides a wonderful light by which all may see. It is by this light that we may truly prepare to see Him again.
The Lord revealed to Joseph Smith, “It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am; And that I am the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”
If we seek Him, if we seek this Jesus of whom the prophets have testified and wise men have witnessed, we shall find Him. Someday we will understand. Hopefully we do not secretly hope that He will delay His coming because it is easier to sleep, or because our Christmas preparations are not yet ready. While it may not be tomorrow, the second advent of the Savior Jesus Christ is nearer. We may not see Him now, but if we are listening we will recognize His voice at the door as He calls to us to follow him. Then will a smile dawn on our faces, knowing that another special season has arrived – a Christmas of a different kind. I look forward to seeing that brilliant light. I look forward to the time when I will be sufficiently prepared. I anxiously await the time when I can greet him on a new Christmas morning.