'Christians, awake!

MY EARLIEST RECOLLECTIONS of Christmas are of a cozy home in the English Midlands. This was still in the aftermath of World War II. My two sisters, my brother, and I used to hang our Christmas stockings at the end of the bed on Christmas Eve, knowing that they would be filled with presents overnight—including a small orange in the toe. Then in the morning, even before the crack of dawn, we'd troop into our parents' bedroom to find not only stockings but pillowcases filled with presents.

To make sure our parents were fully ready for us, it became a tradition to sing "Christians, awake!" to them at the bedroom door. This was a hymn familiar to us all. By the time we'd reached the last lines, "Saved by His love, incessant we shall sing,/Eternal praise to heaven's almighty King," they'd be fully alert and ready for the big moment.

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My place in the family holiday scene
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