Many road trips have already commenced, and the lines are lengthening at the airports. The kids are home from school, and the final texts reconfirming who is bringing what to family feasts are dinging on smartphones. The sights and sounds conspire to proclaim, “It’s Christmas!”

From my earliest childhood, Christmas has been an important part of my life—not just the gift giving and the colorful lights and the Christmas tree, but the story that is at the center of Christmas. Christmas IS the story of Jesus—the child born in a stable to a family far from home for whom there was no room. The story of the angels singing and the visits from the shepherds and the wise men. The story of the baby with the prophetic name, “Emmanuel,” which means “God with us.” Such a promise!

It’s the story we unwrap every Christmas morning and hold in our hands anew. Jesus is truly the real gift who shines through the diverse and rich traditions of Christmas and provides the reason for all of the carols and lights and joyous gatherings. Why shouldn’t our hearts be glad with such news as Christmas brings us!

God speaks to my heart through the story of the first Christmas. The sounds and sights of the holiday may fill ears and eyes, but in my heart there is room for the Christ child—and all that His coming into our world means.

May all of God’s richest blessings be born anew in this Christmas season.