It was one week before Advent (Thanksgiving Day to be exact). My husband left early for a football game with friends, while my three young daughters and I enjoyed a breakfast together, talking about gratitude. Then the conversation switched to Christmas. My girls reminisced about our family tradition of listening to their dad read the story of the Nativity from Luke 2 before exchanging gifts.
A thought occurred to me: What if we modified our tradition and turned it into a surprise for their dad? What if the four of us memorized and recited the Christmas story to him instead?
We were already memorizing Scripture together over breakfast each morning—me reading, and my girls repeating, a new verse every day or two. The length of the Nativity story and the number of weeks remaining would divide out perfectly. I suggested making Luke 2 our new memory passage to present to their dad on Christmas.
The idea captivated my young girls; they love surprises! Dad would be out of the house for a few more hours. We could start immediately.
After a few readings through the passage, a plan formed. We could heighten the surprise if we allowed Dad to begin reading as usual and then jumped in to recite the rest. My eldest wanted to take the first few verses alone. Her younger sister agreed to recite a few more. And of course we would repeat the angel chorus together, with my youngest daughter piping in a few lines to follow. Then I would wrap it up.
The weeks went by. Amid all the shopping and baking, my kids looked forward most to our secret memory work. Images of how their dad would react on Christmas morning dominated their thoughts and propelled their minds to absorb the verses. At odd times during the day I would hear one child reciting snatches from the story aloud to another. God's word about The Word made flesh as an infant permeated our Advent days.1