Often called “the great communicator,” the following excerpts from President Reagan’s Christmas addresses to the American people provide a closer look at our 40th President’s love of family, country, and Christmas.
December 24, 1981
“On Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Christ with prayer, feasting, and great merriment. But, most of all, we experience it in our hearts. For, more than just a day, Christmas is a state of mind. It is found throughout the year whenever faith overcomes doubt, hope conquers despair, and love triumphs over hate. It is present where men of any creed bring love and understanding to the hearts of their fellow man.
The feeling is seen in the wondrous faces of children and in the hopeful eyes of the aged. It overflows the hearts of cheerful givers and the souls of the caring. And it is reflected in the brilliant colors, joyful sounds, and beauty of the winter season.”
December 25, 1982
“Nancy and I wish we could personally thank the thousands of you who’ve sent us holiday cards, greetings, and messages … Some of the most moving have come from fellow citizens who, unlike most of us, are not spending Christmas Day at the family hearth, surrounded by friends and loved ones. I’m thinking of the 12 U.S. Marines who sent us a card from Beirut, Lebanon, where they’ll spend their Christmas helping to rebuild shattered hopes for peace in a suffering land. And I’m thinking of the petty officer serving aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise who asked that we remember him and his shipmates this holiday season. ‘Christmas in the Indian Ocean is no fun,’ he writes, ‘but it’s for a very good cause.’
Well, that’s right, sailor. You’re serving a very good cause, indeed. On this, the birthday of the Prince of Peace, you and your comrades serve to protect the peace He taught us. You may be thousands of miles away, but to us here at home, you’ve never been closer.”
December 23, 1983
“‘Is the Christmas spirit still alive?’ some ask. Well, you bet it is. Being Americans, we open our hearts to neighbors less fortunate. We try to protect them from hunger and cold. And we reach out in so many ways–from toys-for-tots drives across the country, to goodwill by the Salvation Army, to American Red Cross efforts which provide food, shelter, and Christmas cheer from Atlanta to Seattle…
Let us remember the families who maintain a watch for their missing in action. And, yes, let us remember all those who are persecuted inside the Soviet bloc–not because they commit a crime, but because they love God in their hearts and want the freedom to celebrate Hanukkah or worship the Christ Child…
The Christmas spirit of peace, hope, and love is the spirit Americans carry with them all year round, everywhere we go. As long as we do, we need never be afraid, because trusting God is the one sure answer to all the problems we face.”
December 21, 1984
“An early American hymn sang of the Christ-child that ‘this richest babe comes poor in being, more pearled within than to the seeing.’ More than any gift or toy, ornament or tree, let us resolve that this Christmas shall be, like that first Christmas, a celebration of interior treasures. And let us resolve to share our many blessings with others now and in the year to come–from the hungry or the helpless near at hand to those in trouble or turmoil in distant lands from Africa to Asia and beyond.
Today, as we gather with our family and friends to honor Christ, we can experience the same pace and joy as the shepherds and the Magi did almost two thousand years ago. If we make that peace and joy a part of our lives, our example will serve as a guide as an inspiration for everyone we meet.”
December 18, 1985
“Amid all the hubbub and hustle this time of year always brings, we should not forget the simple beauty of that first Christmas long ago. Joseph and Mary, far from home and huddled in a place barely fit for habitation, felt the universal love that binds all families together and a unique awe at the special purpose for which God had chosen them. Gathering around them first the shepherd and later, the Magi–poor and rich, humble and great, native and foreign–each bowed before the King whose dominion knows no boundaries. Above them was the Star, the guiding light which would shine down through the centuries for everyone seeking the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
In the center of all lay the infant, born in the shadows and straw of a stable in Bethlehem, yet truly the fulfillment of ancient prophecies and the hope of every age to come.”
December 11, 1986
“Every December across America the images of the Christmas season accumulate as this great holiday approaches. Preparations are made in homes and churches and shops in every city and town, and the land is full of traditional signs and symbols of its coming: Fresh snow resting lightly on the holly bush, package-laden crowds crushing the storefronts and bus stops, strings of lights gleaming from the housetops, chestnut vendors and street corner Santas, school plays with children dressed–hardly needing the costume–as angels, and choirs joining heart and voice in joyous song…
May our prayers this Christmas call forth that serenity of heart and confidence in the future that are the best of all possible gifts. May the song of our people be one of thanks for God’s blessings on America and of petition for His continued blessings upon us, especially on those who face this Christmas in want or loneliness. Let us raise our hearts and voices in common song for the reign of peace and the rule of goodwill, that in the words of the carol, all may celebrate ‘everywhere, everywhere, Christmas tonight.'”
December 23, 1987
“Christmas, as the carol tells us, is ‘the most wonderful time of the year.’ We see it in the excited eyes of a child–an excitement easy to explain… That is true for grownups as well, of course; the joy and meaning of Christmas only deepen as we grow older.
At Christmastime we accompany shepherds and Wise Men to the stable of old, where we relearn the timeless and priceless lessons of love, humility and sacrifice, where we see the Christmas spirit as God’s love flowing through so many people all at once.
This spirit of love, as simple as a spoken greeting and as profound as a changed heart, seems so full that it ceaselessly looks for ways to express its power. We respond to it best when we share it with family, friend or stranger–when we recognize that, under the sheltering evergreen branches of God’s love, all are family and no one is a stranger. When we do these things, when we visit the lonely or help those in need, when a family is reconciled, Christmas is real and present, and that is truly what makes it ‘the most wonderful time of the year.'”
December 19, 1988
“There was no room at the inn for the Holy Family. Weary of travel, a young Mary close to childbirth and her carpenter husband Joseph found but the rude shelter of a stable. There was born the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace–and event on which all history would turn. Jesus would again be without a home, and more than once; on the flight to Egypt and during His public ministry, when He said, ‘The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath no where to lay his head.’
From His very infancy, on, our Redeemer was reminding us that from then on we would never lack a home in Him. Like the shepherds to whom the angel of the Lord appeared on the first Christmas Day, we could always say, ‘Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known to us.'”
Young America’s Foundation stepped forward to save President Reagan’s beloved mountaintop retreat, Rancho del Cielo, in 1998–in the twenty years since, the “Western White House” has been preserved as a premiere Presidential property and a lasting monument to the accomplishments and ideas of our 40th President where the next generation of conservative leaders come to find inspiration and motivation.