A California Christmas Tradition (Pastor John Hilliard)

Today on the blog, John Hilliard, our Pastor of Global Ministry and Local Outreach, shares some favorite Christmas traditions.

Growing up in California in a family of four boys always provided for lots of energy and excitement with never a dull moment. Christmas was no exception.

Putting up the Christmas tree and decorations after Thanksgiving and making sure that we hung the outside Christmas lights (remember the ones with the big bulbs?) was always exciting (especially making sure no one fell off the ladder!).

We opened our presents on Christmas morning. No one slept well that night, anticipating what gifts we were going to receive. We would open the gifts one at a time and were taught to make sure that we thanked the person who gave it.

When I was 11 or 12, I bought one of my brothers a toy fire truck using my own money. It changed my idea of giving to see his delight when he opened the gift.

Music is always a big part of our celebrations. With children and grandchildren, and a musically inclined family, singing old carols in four-part harmony, playing instruments together, and enjoying the gift of music is a big part of who we are.

These past 6 years I have a new tradition. I listen to the cast recording of the Broadway musical “A Christmas Carol.” Dickens captured the brokenness of our world in Ebenezer Scrooge. His transformation inspires me. It gives rise to a sense of awe.

Each time I listen to this recording I am moved to tears as Scrooge, a crotchety, old, prideful man becomes a contrite and then generous soul.  If you haven’t done so, take a listen and pay close attention to the words of each song. They are deeply moving.

Merry Christmas!

Pastor John Hilliard (with the sideburns)