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Ron L. Deal

One of my most prized Christmas videos is also one of my saddest. Let me explain.

Christmas is the season of hope. The time of year when families find blocks of time to be together and the world is reminded of the Christ-child who built a bridge of redemption for those marred by sin. It’s a time when people of faith speak openly and unashamedly about their Savior and when a shared gift warms the heart with love. It’s a time ripe with tradition and ritual: traditions that guide our actions and give meaning to them, and rituals that tell family members who they belong to (the gift of identity), and comfort us with familiarity.

Perhaps one of your family traditions has something to do with attending a Christmas pageant or production at your church. Three years ago I attended a Christmas production at my church and videotaped my wife and three sons appearing in the cast. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I got to see how all their hard work paid off, and be a proud daddy at the same time.

One scene in the play was particularly enjoyable for me; now it is a treasure I will never forget. My middle son, Connor, then 11 years-old, sang a solo while holding the baby Jesus. My wife, Nan, was the director of the play so weeks earlier when she told the production team that she knew exactly who should play the part of the shepherd boy and sing the solo, they hesitated. Can Connor sing? they wondered. Is this another case of director-mom casting her son without true objectivity? I happened to be at rehearsal the first time Connor sang the song for the cast and musical team. Jaws dropped all over the room as he nailed every note with clarity and boyish charm. He could sing, alright, and everyone attending would be blessed by it.

The Christmas production came off without a hitch and was videotaped as planned. And I’m so glad it was. Connor died fourteen months later.

For now, my family has stopped performing and directing Christmas productions. It’s just too painful. But this proud daddy can’t stop watching his son sing: Jesus, I love you, my Lord, my life. Where would I be without you? Here in the quiet, the still, the night. I am in awe of you. Why would you Creator and King, come as a baby for all, for me? Beautiful Savior, my God, my friend, I am in awe of you, Lord. I am in awe of you.

Now Connor sings with the angels.

In the video Connor holds and rocks a live baby (starring as the baby Jesus) while singing his solo. “You get to sing over Jesus,” I told him one night at rehearsal. “What an honor that is.” After his death I couldn’t help but find comfort in the thought that now Jesus was singing over him.

Connor’s solo is now available for the world to see on YouTube and this proud daddy would love for you to be blessed by it and share it with your family. Christmas is the season of hope; especially for those who have experienced a loss, are unsure of the future, or have been marred by sin (this one includes us all!). Take some time this month to sing a Christmas carol with your children and talk about the gift of grace that is ours to receive—and how even now our Savior is singing his love song over us.

Ron L. Deal is Founder & President of Smart Stepfamilies™ and Director of FamilyLife Blended® for FamilyLife®. He is a bestselling author, highly sought-after speaker, and therapist specializing in marriage enrichment and blended family education. Learn more here.