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Are you ready for Christmas?

A common question around this time of year is, “Are you ready for Christmas?” It can be interpreted in a couple of ways.

Sometimes, the query is whether we have all the gifts purchased, decorations both inside and out finished, donations to worthy causes made, and Christmas dinner food bought and perhaps prepared in advance, and donations to worthy causes made. Depending upon what time of the evening you are reading this, you may still be finalizing your preparations.

Another angle to the question is entirely different: Are we “ready” — that is, in need of — the break from the daily grind offered by Christmas?

Oh, yes. A holiday from work or school is always welcome. We look forward to a few hours enjoying families and friends.

But this is more than just a respite from work or school.

This holiday is different. Christmas is something very special. It is a feeling to which we look forward all year. All of us need a little Christmas, as the song reminds us. Some need a lot.

It begins tonight, Christmas Eve. At some point this evening, we will have to call it quits on getting ready for the Big Day. If we’re not prepared by now, we’ve missed the boat.

Some people will celebrate tonight by going to Christmas Eve services offered by churches throughout the valley. Even if we are not regular church goers, we will feel comfortably at home, hearing the old, familiar story once again. In comparison to the daytime hours, tonight brings with it an unusual peace. It is a time for heaven and nature to sing.

Others, perhaps worn out from their pre-holiday labors, will simply kick back and enjoy a minutes of rest, perhaps along with a moment or two of reflection on what it is that we are celebrating.

For Christians, the evening really is a time when all is calm, all is bright.

It is a time when all the faithful do come, when there is a pervasive joy to the world. This in truth is a holy night.

Sinking into our easy chairs tonight, we recall that the Christmas story does not begin during the hustle and bustle of the day, but upon a midnight clear, away in a manger in a little town called Bethlehem.

There, both fulltime intellectuals in the form of “wise men” and working people represented by shepherds were called to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. He arrived as the promised Messiah for all humankind.

In a way, it was a birthday for all of us, a truly holy night.

We have time tonight to think of all of that, to remind ourselves of the reason for the season before the morrow focuses on visits by Santa Claus. Even he was inspired by the Christian compassion of a saint.

We need this silent night as much as, perhaps more than, Christmas Day.

Are we ready in terms of the material trappings of Christmas? Maybe. Maybe not. We will find out in just a few hours.

But for now, are we ready for the warm, peaceful feeling that comes on Christmas Eve — that we wish was with us every night? Absolutely.

We wish you a merry Christmas.

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