My parents had a rule about December twenty-fifth: No one could so much as touch one present until after we had attended Christmas morning Mass together. We five children prowled around the tree, longing to dive into the inviting pile of gifts, but Mom and Dad stood their ground. Though I admit to having been somewhat distracted at those Masses, my parents’ insistence ingrained in us something deep and lasting: It taught us that Jesus comes first.
My parents taught by example more than words, so I saw the rule as just one of our family’s particular Christmas customs. Later, I came...
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