My sister recently found a picture of me as a mop-haired 3-year-old standing next to a birthday cake for Jesus. The cake was my idea, a burst of preschooler inspiration in response to my mother's explanation that Christmas is the celebration of Jesus' birth. "Well then," I concluded with a child's logic, "we should have a party and cake and Kool-Aid and sing happy birthday to him!"

Thus began a 46-year family tradition, our "birthday party for Jesus," complete with angel food cake. Besides singing carols and reading the Christmas story from the Bible, each family member answers two questions: "What from this past year are you thankful to God for? Since it's Jesus' birthday, what gift will you give Him this next year?"

The problem with miracles is that we forget them. That's why scheduling an annual time to pause and review God's grace in our lives, and to recommit ourselves to Him, has become such a cherished family tradition.

Our party changes each year as our family changes. When my siblings and I were young, the atmosphere was light and full of wiggles. As we matured, our sharing became more intense, even profound. The same cycle repeated itself with my children, and will again with the grandchildren added. But we always grow stronger and closer from sharing our hearts and commitments to Christ.

Generations come and go. My parents are now in heaven. But in a world where everything constantly changes, it is the stability of our family's faith in Christ that enables us to face any circumstance.

That stable faith is the miracle of God's love at Christmas.

This article initially appeared in the Dec. 23, 2003, edition of USA Today. Rick Warren is pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and author of "The Purpose-Driven Church."

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