As we prepare to join our families for Christmas, I am reminded of so many things we should be thankful for. This year will be our second Christmas with our young son, Zeke. Much of what I do in Washington is motivated by a desire to leave a healthy country for coming generations to inherit.
When I listen to former President Ronald Reagan’s speeches, it is clear he was motivated by the same feelings. He always appealed for unity with a positive disposition, but he never shied away from directly addressing the American people.
President Reagan understood the importance of fiscal discipline, family values, and the American embrace of freedom. As is my tradition, I would like to share with you one of his speeches which holds the same truths as it did in 1981 when he gave it.
I wish your family a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.
President Ronald Reagan
Radio Address to the Nation
December 23, 1981
Tonight, in millions of American homes, the glow of the Christmas tree is a reflection of the love Jesus taught us. Like the shepherds and wise men of that first Christmas, we Americans have always tried to follow a higher light, a star, if you will. At lonely campfire vigils along the frontier, in the darkest days of the Great Depression, through war and peace, the twin beacons of faith and freedom have brightened the American sky. At times our footsteps may have faltered, but trusting in God’s help, we’ve never lost our way.
Like the National Christmas Tree, our country is a living, growing thing planted in rich American soil. Only our devoted care can bring it to full flower. So, let this holiday season be for us a time of rededication. Even as we rejoice, however, let us remember that for some Americans, this will not be as happy a Christmas as it should be. I know a little of what they feel. I remember one Christmas Eve during the Great Depression, my father opening what he thought was a Christmas greeting. It was a notice that he no longer had a job. Over the past year, we’ve begun the long, hard work of economic recovery. Our goal is an America in which every citizen who needs and wants a job can get a job.
A few months before he took up residence in this house, one of my predecessors, John Kennedy, tried to sum up the temper of the times with a quote from an author closely tied to Christmas, Charles Dickens. We were living, he said, in the best of times and the worst of times. Well, in some ways that’s even more true today. The world is full of peril, as well as promise. Too many of its people, even now, live in the shadow of want and tyranny.
Once, earlier in this century, an evil influence threatened that the lights were going out all over the world. Let the light of millions of candles in American homes give notice that the light of freedom is not going to be extinguished. We are blessed with a freedom and abundance denied to so many. Let those candles remind us that these blessings bring with them a solid obligation, an obligation to the God who guides us, an obligation to the heritage of liberty and dignity handed down to us by our forefathers and an obligation to the children of the world, whose future will be shaped by the way we live our lives today.
Christmas means so much because of one special child. But Christmas also reminds us that all children are special, that they are gifts from God, gifts beyond price that mean more than any presents money can buy. In their love and laughter, in our hopes for their future lies the true meaning of Christmas.