And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria.

(Luke 2:1–2, NKJV)


If I close my eyes just right, I can hear my grandfather’s raspy voice read the opening words of Luke chapter 2: “And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria.”

My mom’s family lived in southern Indiana, and my family lived in Texas, so most every Christmas we would pack our battle-wagon with suitcases and make a Griswold holiday trek north to visit my grandparents and aunt. As a kid, an Indiana Christmas was special. The big event was divided into two parts. On Christmas morning we would distribute the gifts and  s l o w l y  take our turn opening one-present-at-a-time. It was a painful process, but I usually made out like a bandit!

But the first part of the celebration began on Christmas Eve. We would gather and read the nativity account from the Gospel of Luke. My grandfather was a preacher. As he read the entire account he said each word with precision and diction, pausing to let the text speak. At the conclusion of the reading he would frequently say something to the effect of “And that story about Jesus has changed our lives, dear family; may we pass it on from one generation to the next.”

Every year it was the same until dementia took away his ability to read. He then went on to be with the Lord. By then I had children of my own, and my dad graduated to read the Scriptures on that special occasion. If the Lord tarries, one day another graduation will occur. It will be my turn to read that account in the sacred circle.

Although the voices I once heard as a kid are no longer with us, my grandfather was right. We must pass it on from one generation to the next. Jesus has indeed changed our lives, dear family.

By the way . . . I say that to you in my best raspy voice.