Prayer comes first on Christmas Day
Of all the annual traditions to make the season bright, prayer is the one that sticks out for this young adult.
By Guest Blogger Angelica N. Quinonez
The Christmas season is my favorite time of year. Thanksgiving Day at my grandmother’s house—with the first sounds of Christmas can be heard blasting from her living room stereo—marks the beginning of the season in my family. Hearing White Christmas  play, even in a city where it never snows, is a reminder that our season of preparation and celebration has begun.
At home on Thanksgiving night, my parents and I discuss the year’s Christmas decorations. How will the door and the windows be decorated? What will the Christmas tree-theme be? Will there be a tree-theme? Somewhere between the first Sunday of Advent and Christmas, usually around the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe , we setup and decorate our Christmas tree and setup our Nativity set. Our celebration of Advent is fairly traditional.
On Christmas Eve, my entire family gathers together to celebrate Christmas, exchange gifts, and sing Christmas carols at the top of our lungs. Our rendition of "The Twelve Days of Christmas,"  I believe, can be heard at least a mile or two away, especially our explosive interpretation of the “five golden rings” lyric. It’s loud, it’s off-key, but it’s tradition!
There is one tradition, however, that I've gained a greater appreciation for in my adulthood. At the stroke of midnight on Christmas, we don’t open presents and we don’t immediately say “Merry Christmas” to each other. Instead, we kneel before the Christ child and we pray.
We pray in celebration of Christ’s incarnation so long ago. We pray in thanksgiving for Mary and Joseph’s “yes” and faithfulness. We pray for peace in the world and in the lives of our friends and families. We pray in thanksgiving for the graces received throughout the year. And we ask Christ to be re-born in our hearts so that we may live out the spirit and joy of Christmas in our lives each day—that we may be bearers of God’s love and light in all we do.
As a little girl, all I wanted to do was rush through the prayers and open my presents. Now that I’m older, I appreciate the true meaning of Christmas beyond the carols and presents.
More than 2,000 years ago true love came in the form of an innocent child, and it was that same love that redeemed us on a cross and calls us in unity, peace, and love today. Remembering that is knowing what “Merry Christmas” truly means.
Guest blogger Angelica holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Santa Clara University and a Master of Arts in Theology from the University of San Francisco. She is a 28-year-old San Franciscan and aspiring writer. She blogs at Through A Glass Onion .
Read more blogs about Advent and Christmas traditions at uscatholic.org/advent . Submit a guest blog to firstname.lastname@example.org . We may put this together into a holiday theme Meditation Room for the magazine next year. Any reflections selected for publication will win $50!
Guest blog posts express the views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of U.S. Catholic, its editors, or the Claretians.