All across the nation, a feeling of anticipation is in the air. It is Christmas Eve, a time when those whose jobs do not demand that they be at work complete preparations for tomorrow, the biggest day on most of our calendars. Once the packages are all wrapped, the last decorations are adjusted on Christmas trees, cookies are taken out of the oven and, perhaps, a turkey begins cooking, a time of peace descends upon many of us.
Weary from the hustle and bustle of the holidays, we relax for a few moments. Many of us go to evening church services, where "Joy to the World" comes booming with real feeling from hundreds of voices.
It is a time for joy.
Something about the night - about this night - brings a calm contentment that we long for throughout the year, but so often seem unable to attain.
It is, of course, the peace that comes to those who delight in the secular trappings of the holidays, revel in time with friends and family - but hold foremost in their thoughts the meaning of Christmas.
Christ was born. It is that simple. The fact that it happened brings sublime, extraordinary joy to Christians. The day each year we set aside to celebrate the beauty of what happened in a stable far away, two millennia ago, is cherished by those of the faith.
So powerful is the day that feeling in our minds and hearts from the mere anticipation of it on Christmas Eve surpasses - by far - most other happy events of our lives.
And tonight, before the busy, sometimes stressful, schedule we have set for Christmas Day itself, we have a few moments of peace, of time to contemplate what the celebration means to us.
Yes, it is Christmas Eve. Relax for a moment. Let your thoughts focus on the beauty of Christmas.