Published December 1, 2020
There are a few times each year that I become excited about upcoming events. As I continue my Oneida journey in 2021, I anticipate graduation, the first day of school and other OBI events making my favorites list. As much as I love these events, they don't compare to my love for Christmas.
Thanksgiving is a great holiday that reminds us to be thankful for God's blessings and is also a great excuse to eat as much as we possibly can, but as Thanksgiving passes, my mind quickly turns to Christmas.
The month leading up to Christmas is my favorite time of year. I love the smells, the food, the music, the anticipation of gift giving and receiving, the decorations, time with family and — most of all — celebrating our Savior's birth. In our home, we even do a "half Christmas" celebration on June 25.
My wife did not have many Christmas traditions in her home as a youngster, and now she more than makes up for it with our children.
One of our traditions is to put up our Christmas tree and decorations the Friday after Thanksgiving. Every year, each of our three children receives an ornament that represents something special.
A few years ago, I was so excited about our Christmas decorating festivities that I woke up at 4:30 a.m. on the day before Thanksgiving and had most of our decorations done before my family awoke.
Several years back, we had an eight-foot artificial tree that a friend had given us when she moved from Florida to Georgia. One year after giving us the tree, our friend lost her teenage son because of a heart issue. Each year as my family put up that tree, I thought of our friend and the loss of her son.
As our kids hang their special ornaments, I am reminded that each day with them is a gift from the Lord. Life is so fragile and should be cherished. As I observe our OBI students, I constantly remind myself that each of them is someone's beloved son or daughter, and that Christ was born and died for them. It is wonderful friends of OBI like you who enable us to minister to our young people.
I want to encourage you this Christmas season to enjoy it as if it were your last. God is so good to us, but we aren't guaranteed anything in this life. Enjoy the friends and family God has given you like you never have before.
God has been so good to Oneida this year, and He will continue to bless us all as long as we continue to give our time and talents and do His work. Many of our students find the Christ child here on our campus.
As you celebrate Christmas this year with the ones you love, please pray for and remember Oneida and the young people the Lord has asked us to love and care for.
I wish you and yours the most wonderful and Christ-filled Christmas you have ever experienced. May Christ be glorified in your homes and in your hearts this Christmas!
Larry Gritton is president of Oneida Baptist Institute in Oneida, Ky.
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