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(Editor's note: This article first appeared in December, 2008, and is reprinted every year. Hopefully it reminds you of the your own childhood Christmas').

A Christmas Eve Tale to Remember

December 8, 2011

Each Christmas I think about Brian Cardiff

Brian was my best friend growing up as a boy in Columbus, Ohio. Everyone loved Brian. He was the leader of our 6th grade class at Como Elementary, and he was adored by the students and the teachers. He was smart, athletic, kind, and grounded. We all knew great things lay ahead for Brian Cardiff.

The Cardiff family had a wonderful Christmas tradition, and it went something like this. At midnight, on Christmas Eve, Brian’s younger brother would ask his mom and dad if he could go outside and look for Santa Claus, and his nine reindeer.

Brian always accompanied his little brother into the cold night where they would gaze at the stars to look for Santa making his rounds in the snow-covered neighborhood.

Year after year, after each adventure, they were disappointed in not seeing Santa, but upon returning home the Cardiff parents would inform the boys that Santa had come to the house when they were gone; delivered the presents; and moved on to the next stop.

The Cardiff family then opened Santa’s gifts on Christmas Eve. This was the Cardiff tradition, and it was repeated year-after-year.

Christmas traditions remain in our hearts and follow us for generations - not only as we live them - but as we talk about them with others. It might be something said in a simple conversation, or a family story, baking in the kitchen, or maybe cutting down and decorating the Christmas tree.

As children, we remember them for a lifetime, and they affect who we are, and who we become.

With Christmas around the corner it is the time to remember the things that we are grateful for; maybe it's as simple as a person who impacted our lives or possibly changed our outlook on life. In these uncertain economic times - it is well to remember what we can be thankful for, and to remember that better times are ahead.

Christmas is also a time to remember that there is much that can be said in keeping alive a youthful spirit, and to remember the simpler and unpretentious lifestyle we all enjoyed at one time in our lives.

I am reminded of the answer that former President Ronald Reagan gave when he was asked to name the one book he would take with him if he were a castaway on a deserted island. He responded, "I would ask for the Bible" - saying that it was the greatest of all stories. It has love, hate, joy, tragedy, war, and peace – all the dynamics of life that are known to man.

Reagan was right - and one of the most intriguing passages of the Bible is Matthew 18:2-4 where Christ characterizes an individual’s conversion to Christianity as being childlike - in other words the strongest faith comes from a humble and sincere heart - like that of a child.

So it is that many heartfelt things are learned when we are young, and it is of great help to keep them close and remember them always.

It was 50 years ago that Brian Cardiff narrated his boyhood Christmas story to me. He later attended the United States Naval Academy and was killed during a flight training mission over the Mediterranean Sea in 1976.

But his Christmas Eve tale is still being told.