Monday, December 31, 2012

Morton Family Prayer- 2012

Dear Lord,

Our family Christmas dinner is a conflict of emotions this year. We celebrate your son’s birthday and the ability for this clan to all come together in remarkable numbers. We celebrate a new birth and a new marriage. And yet our heart aches for one magic light that’s missing from the room.

Lord, I ask you to continue to heal those hearts who ache this Christmas season and allow us all to slowly release the pain and questions that rest in our hearts. Please enable us through your grace to know you are listening -- and that you care. Come to those who grief as the Father of all comfort.

Let us turn our eyes to you as we seek to find the strength to trust in your faithfulness. Hearts are crushed, but let us know that we are not abandoned. We simply have an angel that is waiting for us to greet us all when we are called home to your kingdom. Though difficult to see past today, let us trust in your great love and great master plan.

May the eternal memory of those we miss remind us that the hustle and bustle of life makes it easy for us to be absent from life’s real blessings far too much. Sorrow makes it impossible for us to be absent, and so, blesses us with real presence. In the midst of our sorrows, distractions fall away, and we are there, raw and open, often confused, always vulnerable, little and great. May that love provide an indelible mark on us forever and open us up to a deeper relationship with you and those in this room.

While the world celebrates around us, let us remember Christmas celebrations of the past. Remind us through dual magical and melancholy memories that you sent your son to be with us in our deepest sorrows and I know that he is by our side, here with us, grieving with us, caring for us, loving us. Let our sorrow act as a navigational compass for us to realize the truly important things in this life and draw deeper meaning and compassion in our relationships.

Lord, our God, this year, you reminded us of the fragility of the human condition and the brevity of our lives on earth. But for those who believe in your love, death is not the end, nor does it destroy the bonds that you forge in our lives. It simply makes them eternal. For that, we give thanks. Eternally.


Morton Family Prayer- 2011

Dear Heavenly Father,

As we gather here today with immediate family, extended relatives, friends and neighbors, let us remember why we come together to spend this day. As I look at their faces and remember their stories- our stories- feelings of gratitude wash over us for the blessings too many to count. Sure, there have been challenges. Our journey is fraught with fear and anxiety. But just as you have provided a canopy of love and forgiveness over this life, a compass of faith that shows us the path, you have surrounded us with these loved ones that have acted like guiding posts on our travels. In the times that we have been oblivious to this support network you have provided, please forgive. For the times we have not accepted this unending love, please reprieve.  As you’ve provided this incredible event and brought all of those together that have provided a generational compass to show us the way to what true love means, let us give the highest form of thanks we know how.

Lord, this is our prayer on this Christmas dinner. May this be a reminder for us to live a life of gratefulness and appreciation in our day to day.  And like the growing Christ child we read about in the good book, let us grow in wisdom daily, seeking to know you and the path you’ve chosen for us in mind and spirit. Let us meet those challenges that are put in front of us without cowardice- facing them with a bold and humble strength. Each member in this room is the net to catch us and rescue us if we should fail. Let us remember that the true value of the individual is the notion of sacrifice. Like you did for us, let us make it our duty to provide for others to the best of our ability and to leave this world a better place at the end of the day than at the beginning. And let us live these words not just in this time around your birth, what we call Christmas, but let these life missives direct us year-round.

This Christmas season brings us happiness as we are with our family. Too will this Christmas evening when we crawl into our various warm beds with grateful thoughts of you. Please help us remember the birth of your son Jesus Christ and that we may share with the songs of your heavenly Angels, the worship of your son the messiah on this glorious day.  Thank you, Lord, for providing for us so generously in our life and for opening the door for your love for us and everyone around us.


Morton Family Prayer- 2010

Dear Lord,

As this amazingly enormous and close family gathers today in your honor, it gives us an opportunity to reflect on all of those things that we are so incredibly grateful for.

We are first grateful for life. Grateful for all the warm loving homes that we’ve been placed in and for all the people that you’ve brought across our paths. We’re grateful for our beloved children, grandchildren, brothers and sisters, cousins, and friends that might as well be family. We are grateful for the ability to love, the willingness to forgive and the opportunity to be forgiven. We are forever blessed with an abundance of people who care about us as individuals and who we can return that love to. We feel grateful for all the wonderful teachers in our lives that have taken so many shapes. They have helped us to stand up for ourselves, speak the truth, face our fears, see ourselves more clearly and teach patience, tolerance and forgiveness. We are grateful for the experience of being fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers. You’ve blessed us with multiple generations where we can honor the newborn and the eldest with equal celebration.

We are grateful for this beautiful Earth and all living plants and creatures that make this a paradise of color and diversity. We’re honored that you allow us the opportunity to travel this planet and soak in the wonder that you have created for us.

We are grateful God for Life- including sound bodies and minds and for opening hearts to compassion, strength, courage, determination, perseverance and joy. The blessings that you have granted by touching us and guiding us with your hand are unending in their proportions- it is love pure and unadulterated.

We are grateful for our purpose- that in the end, you bring us to a path that we are meant to walk. We remain thankful for lining that path with family and friends, for love, divine guidance, shelter, nourishment, health, truth, balance, harmony, grace, mercy, forgiveness, passion and happiness. We are thankful for rising each and every day to see beauty in things that most people take for granted.

Let us just for a moment, Lord, hold this night in our heart. Help us remember the immense love we share for each of us in this room. With each gift that is opened today, let it be an extension of the many ways you gift us each day, especially with your presence in our hearts and the presence of each other in our lives.


Morton Family Prayer- 2009

Dear Lord,

For those of us that you have blessed with children, you have also blessed us with the resources to honor your birth with special gifts and toys on Christmas Day. And through your grace, you’ve brought friends and family members into our lives that have done the same.

Now, occasionally, those blessed toys arrive to our homes unassembled. And somehow they arrive with more pieces than is even fathomable. And usually, they arrive with directions that are in French or Chinese. Although it could be Latin or even pig-Latin. But through this laborious process, which in itself can be a test of faith- in our hand-eye coordination- I’m reminded of how there really can and should be a list of instructions on how to celebrate Christ’s birth and Christmas Day. So I’ve taken the liberty of making a short list of five instructions on How To Assemble A Merry Christmas. And it’s not even in Chinese…

Step One- First, follow the instructions and discover the main part.
A Merry Christmas begins and ends with a baby in a manger. Short and sweet- but through all of the noise and all of the holiday clutter, it comes down to a baby in a manger.

Step Two- Get someone else to help you celebrate.
No time of the year is more profitable for the soul than Christmas. The shepherds increased their joy by spreading the good news of Jesus' birth and we can do the same. Like we’ve done here tonight, surround yourself with as many family and friends as you can to share this gift.

Step Three- Take time to think it through.
The message of Christmas is not in the fact that we buy gifts or decorate buildings.   If anything, that commercialism can distract us from just simply celebrating the real blessings and gifts you bring us throughout the year.  

Fourth- Don't throw any of the parts away.
Every detail that surrounds Christmas is important and must not be forgotten.  If it becomes lost then our Merry Christmas is just a poor facsimile of the original. Center our traditions and celebration around the things that remind us of that blessed event- that goes for Christ’s birth as well as every family gathering that celebrates that birth.

Step Five- Don't stop until the job is done.
A Merry Christmas just begins in December.  It continues the whole year through. Let the joy of Christmas change you. Carry it’s principles with you 365 days a year.

These five steps to assemble a Merry Christmas are clear, if not always easy.  It takes a little effort. Heaven knows, however, it’s worth every effort.

O God, bless our family and all its members and friends;
bind us together by your love.
Give us kindness and patience to support each other;
and wisdom in all we do.
Let the gift of your peace come into our hearts and remain with us.
May we rejoice in your blessings for all our days.


Morton Family Prayer - 2008

Dear Lord,

We welcome two more babies to this ever-growing family this year… It’s a fact said in equal parts pure joy and disbelief. And it is the fact that bonds each of us equally, for if we aren’t parents ourselves, we are all children. All children tied by blood, marriage or friendship to this wonderfully crazy, tragic, mostly magic, beautiful life.

We have babies of all ages here tonight, some just a few weeks old, some toddlers, some adolescents, a few teenagers, a few almost-adults, and some all the way up into their late 60’s. We have babies bigger than their mommas and many who are closing in fast. Our babies make us laugh until we cry, and cry because they cry. Like a ship in a bottle, the baby is buried deep within each of us, some barely discernable except for the reminders of our parents or tattered black and white photographs.

When we look back on those photographs, or even better, the ones we’ve taken as snapshots in our mind, they are battered, spotted & well-used. But I suspect that if you flipped the pages of that mental photo album, memories will rise like dust.

Raising children is presented at first as a true-false test, then becomes multiple choice, until finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay. Every part of raising children is humbling. Believe me, mistakes have been made. If you believe what we read today, my cousins and I were raised in asbestos-laden and lead-paint houses & seatbeltless cars. Yet here we are. I’m sure have all been enshrined in the 'Remember-When-Mom-Or-Dad-Did-This' Hall of Fame. I’ll be proud to have my statue standing right next to my parents.

The times we arrived late for preschool pickup. The nightmare sleepover. The horrible summer camp. The time I came home from my first fight at school, my mom said wait until your dad comes home and his only response was, “Did you win?”

But the biggest mistake we make is the one that most of us make while doing “the day to day.” We do not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone. Moments with my parents, my siblings, my cousins, many moments captured only in photographs. Moments like this summer sitting with my sisters and their families together in a campsite in Yosemite around a fire. I hope I can forever remember what we ate, what we talked about, how the kids sounded, how they laughed, how they ran out into the lake to retrieve their caught fish, how they looked when they slept that night, and how disheveled they looked when they woke up. I hope not to be in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I treasure doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.

I wish for more moments like this one right here.

We’re all children with expectations. Some like my new little Heather, have very big shoes to fill. I pray that she’ll hold life half as precious as her namesake did. My cousin Heather had a million life moments, ones that were etched onto each of us here. And I hope that the expectations that my little Heather lives a life as full are not mine, but simply her own. And I pray that it’s one that is memorable. For her. For all of us.


Morton Family Prayer- 2007

Dear Lord,

Once upon a time so many times in this big family, we’ve had a baby born in the middle of the night in a local delivery room.  Before you know it, they’re off to school and then seem to graduate from school what seems to be just a few months later.  They’ve gone on to serve their country, save lives in the line of fire, started businesses that have employed hundreds, and given a loving home and foundation for their own families.  Each one of us touches so many in a positive way- in our own way.  The world's a better place for all that baby has grown up and done.  And it’s funny when you think about the reason we’re alive to even pass on that gift.

All because two people fell in love

Right now at this little community center here in Sacramento, you'll find delicious food and more presents than you can count.  The whole Morton family has drove in here- sometimes from four hours away.  Arthur Morton said that sixty plus years ago he knew that Miss Charlotte was the one.  And only because of that fact do four generations get together every December.
All because two people fell in love

A beautiful 15-year old brunette girl named Jennifer was introduced to me by a big sister and brought me a to a higher plane of love that I didn’t even know existed.  Then came marriage, a home, a busy family with three busier boys, in a living room cluttered with strewn toys, only interrupted with never-ending trips to school, soccer and little league games.  It’s a life filled blessings and one I wouldn’t change for anything.   And my wife & my blessed life was only brought to me, like each life partner was brought to each one of you,

All because two people fell in love

Every single thing’s affected
When two hearts get connected
All that is, ever was, or will be
Has been passed from above to you and me
Every single choice we make
Every breath we get to take
Be glad your dad could not resist
Your mama's charms, because you exist
You know, to me it's all so clear
Every one of us is here
All because two people fell in love


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Morton Family Prayer- 2006

Dear Lord,

As we gather around this incredible family get-together, it is quite obvious how your Holy Spirit and faith has guided us all over the last year.   Our love in God and in each other proves to be our biggest blessing.  From a love of husband to wife, mother to child, grandson to grandparent, and cousin to cousin, this blessing is an incredible bond, an incredible and rare thing, that has your fingerprints all over it, Lord.  But let us not forget all the other blessings you have graced us with, we must remember how truly blessed you have made each of us.

By simply having food in the refrigerator, clothes on our back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep ...  we are richer than 80% of the entire world.

With money in the bank, in our wallet, or spare change in a dish some place...  we are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy.

If you woke up this morning with more health than illness... We are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week.

By not ever having to experience the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation... we are ahead of 500 million people in the world who face this on a daily basis.

Because we can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death...we are more blessed than three billion people in the world.

If you can read this prayer as I do, you just received a double blessing as you are more blessed than the over two billion people in the world that cannot read at all.

If your parents are still alive and still married...  You are very rare- even in the United States.

If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful... You are blessed because while the majority can, but most do not.

If you can hold someone's hand, hug them or even touch them on the shoulder... You are blessed because we can offer a healing touch in your Spirit.

Lord, please continue to make us recognize our blessings
to be faithful to our day-to-day duties,
to bear the cares and tribulations of life,
to be open and generous to the needs of others,
to provide divine charity through your Holy Spirit
to strengthen the sacrament of marriage and the raising of our children
and to fulfill with joy the plan of God has for us and ahead of us with human dignity that only you can provide.


Morton Family Prayer- 2005

Dear Lord, 

Thank you for bringing this incredible family together again for Christmas, Lord, to celebrate the birth of Christ, and the love of one another that you have taught this family so amazingly well.  This year has been one of incredible highs and lows and you have carried us through with supportive arms, guiding us the way in each instance.  We have lost ones very dear to us, reminding us that the time we have here together is fragile and should not be wasted on anything but one another.  And yet, in the very same year, you bring us new family members- whom we can only hope to pass along those generational gifts that our grandparents and beyond have worked so long to pass to us.   One of those gifts they have given us is an unwavering devotion to our children- evident in all of these deep relationships I see all around me this evening.  

Thank you for our children, for trusting us to be their fathers and mothers. May they never doubt our love for them.  I pray that our love will always be righteous and nurturing.  May our devotion give us joy whenever we speak to them, patience whenever we respond to them, and wisdom whenever we make decisions concerning their futures.

May we never fail them Lord, but if we do, please let them forgive us, as you have forgiven us. Guard and protect their hearts and minds, Lord, and may your love always surround them, guide them, educate them, and sustain them through all the trials and tests of life.
My lord, you have blessed our family beyond our just deservedness and shown us your true glory and beauty through our children here- whether they’re 65 or less than a year. You have used them in amazing ways to show us the grace and patience that is found in your amazing trip called life. You have brought us together in a very particular way, to show your true power to transform, unite and bless. We give thanks for your amazing work to provide for us all things good and with an ability to prosper.

Help us to find the ways to attend to each of their needs and always point them back to the cross and our family for their ultimate rejuvenation of spirit.  May our gentle and patient spirit always be evident to them.  Equip us with the ability to praise and encourage them to be the person you have designed them to be, and make evident the adoration we have for them with each word or action. 

I pray that you will always reign in their hearts- in all of our hearts- and that they will always look towards you for their strength.   Lord, may you always abound in our relationship and indeed be the very fabric which binds us together, so that we may glorify you in all that we do- as you have done with your own son- with incredible sacrifice and example.  


Morton Family Prayer- 2004

Dear Lord,

Christmas is celebration, but the traditions that cluster sweetly around this day have significance only if they translate the heart's intention- which is the yearning of the human spirit to encompass and express faith, hope and love. Without this intention, the gift is bare, and the celebration a touch of tinsel, and the time with family is without meaning. These attributes, exemplifying the divine spark in mankind-and in this family, were at the first Christmas and have survived the onslaughts of relentless time.

Faith, hope and love, which cannot be bought or sold or bartered, but only given away are the deep wellsprings of Christmas celebration. These are the gifts without price, the ornaments incapable of imitation, discovered only within oneself and therefore unique. They are not always easy to come by, but they are in unlimited supply in all of us.  It is in your name Lord that we will celebrate The Spirit of Christmas by rejoicing the season and having the wisdom to provide a little extra to those around us.  Beginning with me, we’ll recognize the miracles of Christmas.

We’ll seek out a forgotten friend & write a letter.
Share some a treasure of yours & make it a treasure of others.
Encourage youth to see the miracles around them.
Prove our loyalty with a deed.
Keep a promise.
Find the time.
Forego a grudge.
Forgive an enemy.
Try to understand.
Think first of someone else.
Appreciate others.
Be kind; be gentle.
Laugh a little.  Laugh a lot
Laugh a little more.
Deserve confidence.
Decry complacency.
Express your gratitude.
Welcome & reward a stranger.
Gladden the heart of a child.
Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth.
Speak your love.
Speak it again.
Speak it loudly

O Lord
bless our family
and all its members and friends;
and most importantly, bind us together by your love.


Morton Family Prayer- 2003

Dear Lord,

Earlier this week, I had an acquaintance at work question me about this giant family function that bring us here tonight.  He told me that it was awfully sentimental in this modern day.  When I asked him what he meant, he said that “sentiment is too much emotion for too little a moment.”

As I thought about it more, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Who wouldn’t want to have a life filled with little moments?”

In my 31 years- and I’m sure in Nana and Pop Pop’s eighty-something years- we’ve lost too many friends to disease, to accidents, to the dark abyss that lurks in each of us.  I have also felt the miraculous power of Life, caught cup-handed like God’s breath on a winter morning.  I don’t mean just weddings and births.  It’s the honor in defeat, valor in failures, hope in the face of what seems logical and love despite the future of what lies ahead.

It’s no secret why on tombstones it is stated so simply- etched there in stone:

“Beloved husband and father”

“Loving Daughter”

“True Friend”

Given the certainty of our destination, one thing holds true.  All that really matters in the short littleness of life, is who you were to someone else.

Yes, I am sentimental.  And it is worth every minute.  I look at the series of oddly sometimes old-fashioned events that I have called my life.  And I swear that I would never do anything different.  All the mistakes I’ve made, any pain I’ve endured, all the time lost fighting so hard against things truly important… all this is such a small price to pay for the honor and privilege of being allowed to love the endearingly fellow sentimental people in my life.   And everyone in this room has had this same blessing.

We owe to all to you Lord.  Thank you.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Morton Family Prayer- 2002

Dear Lord,

As our extended family gathers here today, I am reminded of a quote by the great thinker Albert Einstein, “Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind.  To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.  There are only two ways to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

Those words ring home and ring true for our family this Christmas.  Two individuals in this room met 60+ years ago by a miracle.  They made a miracle of a commitment to each other and would go on to have three miracles of their own.  Each of those three would find their own miracles.  Those three miracles would have ten miracles of their own.  The family… This family would cherish one another as Einstein as had said.  Those ten children would lose their most special miracle, but would realize that just knowing her, just loving her was a miracle in itself.  Those nine miracles would find their own miraculous love of their life and they would have 20 more miracles.  By simple fate, 60 plus years ago, one miracle beset hundreds of others. 

As we celebrate this birth of Christ, let us give thanks for what you have provided and ask of our own eyes to see the miracles that you provide all around us.  The miracles of goodwill, friendship, charity, love, faith, cooperation, and fellowship.  Let us remember to open our eyes like those of our littleist miracles- our children.  Let us remember that your hand creates amazing acts of wonder all around us. 

But most of all, thank that original miracle that started this group that sits here today.  That miracle where a boy named Art fell in love with a girl named Charlotte.  Hmmmm, if you think about it, it’s simply miraculous…


Morton Family Prayer- 1999


Once again, you’ve blessed us all for an entire year and allowed our family to return together here at Nana and Pop Pop’s for an event unlike any other.  We’re all healthy, a year wiser and excited about expanding this herd by two early next year.  Both Jennifer and Wendy will be having the first Morton babies born into the new millennium in February.  And what a fascinating milestone it will be.  2000 years ago, you gave us your only son, an act so amazing, so inspiring.  We truly not only owe our existence to you, but our soul and being as well.  Through your hand and the examples you create, you continue to educate and teach.  I’ve pondered what we’ll bring to the new millennium and I see the answers all around me.  From Nana, we’ll all take her love family and tradition.  From Pop Pop, we’ll bring his love of the earth and everything outdoors.  From my father, we’ll take the notion that we must do that which we love, that life’s too short to not be passionate about what we do.  From Jeanne, we’ll bring that drive to succeed- even if we’re not given all the tools to do it easily.  From Jan, we’ll take that incredible laugh and smile and her uncompromising belief that your life’s purpose is family.   From my brother and sisters, we’ll bring that invisible hand of support that you know is always there to pat your back for encouragement and hold you up when you fall.  From my cousins, we’ll take the notion that, like their parents, their highest priority is their children.  And from all of those children, we’ll bring that incredible sense of hope and that wide-eyed innocence that we hope will never dim from their faces.  And from me, all I’ll bring is the recognition that we’re each made up of a piece o f everyone else here.  Each relationship, each hug, every holiday has molded us like a piece of clay into what we are today.  This new millennium isn’t a new start of the future.  It’s only a marker for us to measure and honor everything that has brought us here to it.  Lord, thank you for the ride.


Friday, December 28, 2012

Morton Family Prayer- 1998


This year of Nineteen Hundred and Ninety Eight has been another wonderful year for the extended Morton family.  Each of Nana and Pop Pop’s children have received awards and recognitions that named them each to the pinnacle of success of their respective careers.  It’s amazing that a simple farming background and a set of strong and true family values led my grandparents to raise this remarkable threesome.

And Lord, we remember that it was your shadow that watched over this family as it grew through the years, through its highest highs and its lowest lows.  We have followed your lead all the way, walking in your shadow to ensure a wholesome and life true to your word.  This is not a shadow in the normal sense.  It is not a shadow which is dark and hidden from light.  Yours is a shadow that brings hope and warmth.  It guides and protects.  Your provide examples of these shadows throughout out lives everyday.  As I do to my father before me, my son is a shadow and mirror of myself at his age.  Through Pop Pop’s eyes, his strained vision, the world is filled with shadows, but you fill it with family and loved ones that represent all that is true to God.  Just like we follow in your shadow for guidance and direction, our children (and for some of us grandchildren) follow our shadow for leadership and growth.  And finally there are those shadows that no longer cast themselves here on earth.  We take great comfort in knowing that they now walk beside you in heaven, bathing in your shadow directly.  We pray that they know that they are missed and loved as much as always.

Lord, the world we live in sometimes seems more cynical and crazy each year.  Gosh knows we see things through the media and government that leave us shaking our heads.  You have taught this family well, however.  The Morton family knows this refuge you provide us through walking in your shadow will lead us to your loving and guardian hands.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Morton Family Prayer- 1997


As we all gather here together again this Christmas, we must thank you for carefully watching over us and keeping everyone out of harms way.  Your strong and guiding hands kept us all blessed over the past year.  We come here to Nana and Pop Pop’s not only to celebrate each other and family ties, but to remember the birth of Jesus Christ, our savior.  And while the birth of your son was monumental to the heavens and earth, I can’t help but share some correlation to my own son’s birth earlier this year.  Over the last decade or so, I have witnessed my sisters and cousins give birth to many beautiful boys and girls.  And each family member attempted to express the overwhelming sense of joy and love experienced by the birth of a child.  But until I experienced this absolute miracle first-hand, there’s no way any words could have ever expressed such feelings.  It’s so obvious that God’s hand is at work as your own child is brought into the world.  As I look around the room at all the young faces, and even the not-so-young faces, I realize that each person is a miracle created by your own hand and in your own image.  Each of us are an event to be celebrated throughout our whole lives.  This journey you send us on is to be witness to each of these miracles and then to celebrate those individuals forever.  That makes our gathering here powerful, for we are indeed rejoicing in the love we have for each other.  Your hand has great influence in our Morton Family Christmas, as it does in all things.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Morton Family Prayer- 1996


Another year has quickly passed us by and more than ever, we are thankful and grateful for you watching over us so carefully.  We are truly fragile creatures kept safe by your guiding hands.  As children, you instill to us a light that burns brightly this time of year with thoughts of Santa Claus and Christmas presents.  Instead of lessening, this internal flame grows more passionate as we grow older.  Our thoughts and attentions turn to our younger generations so that we may pass on our beliefs and values as well as our family traditions.  The Morton Family Christmas morning is part of all of us as the blood in our veins.  Therefore, it came as a surprise that this tradition was being changed.  But as I considered it some more, we weren’t changing much about it at all.  Our Christmas legacy is all bout family gathering together to celebrate each other and the birth of our savior Jesus Christ.  Tradition is not about timing, location or what food is served, but having family together rand the feelings shared among loved ones.  Our love and feelings run deep, and that’s one thing that will not change.  Therefore, our family tradition runs eternal.


Monday, December 24, 2012

Morton Family Prayer- 1994


Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking of the family morning prayer, wondering what to say and how to say it.  I mean, how can you possibly put this morning and all of the love and feelings that are shared into mere words?  As much as I try each and every year, you can’t.  And then a few days ago, I heard song lyrics that came as close to expressing our Christmas thanks as I’ve ever heard.  So with apologies to Steven Curtis Chapman, I’d like to read them to you:

“In a one bedroom apartment on the humble side of town
There stands a little Christmas tree, looks a lot like Charlie Brown's
And underneath there's one little gift for him and one little gift for her
After six months on the new job, they're still barely getting by
So in the way of decorations, there's nothing there to catch your eye
But both of them would be the first to say
We're together, we're gonna have the merriest Christmas anyway

'Cause Christmas is all in the heart, that's where the feeling starts
And like a fire inside, it touches every part
'Cause Christmas is all in the heart
And even if no white snow falls, that's all right because
The joy can still be found, wherever you are
'Cause Christmas is all, all in the heart

Two little blonde haired boys with big dreams, tried to sleep but sleep wouldn't come
We'd be tearing into presents, long before the break of dawn
With Mom and Dad and cameras making sure we'd never forget that day
Now I'm the one who's taking pictures, in the middle of the night
Of my own blonde headed dreamers that just can't wait until daylight

And in my sleepy eyes the spark still glows
Well I guess there's just some things a kid never outgrows

No, it's not in the snow that may or may not fall
And it's not in the gifts around the tree
It's in the love heaven gave, the night our Savior came
And that same love can still be found wherever you are
'Cause Christmas is all in the heart
And the joy can still be found, wherever you are
'Cause Christmas is all, all in the heart
It's all in the heart”


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Morton Family Prayer- 1993


We owe our thanks to you once again for allowing our growing family to gather here at Nana’s house to celebrate Jesus’s birthday.  It seems harder and harder to find time to visit and talk with our loved ones, yet every year, you manage to bring us all here to show us just how special this family really is.  If there was a single word that describes the power you instill in our lives not just on Christmas, but everyday, it’s probably “faith.”

You give us the faith to believe in you, your most gracious of all.  We look to you in times of trouble, when we need an extra lift to get over that last hurdle.

You give us the faith to believe in ourselves.  It’s through you that we have the strength to believe in ourselves to reach any pinnacle we care to reach and capture any prize we wish to catch.  You give us the faith to believe in one-another.  We trust each other on little things as well as the big.  We learn that we can lean on each other and support one-another to make it through this test called life.

And finally, you give our children the faith to believe in their parents and this family.  They’re learning tradition, love, sharing, cheer, caring and most importantly, the faith to believe in Christmas.


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Morton Family Prayer- 1992


As our growing family is brought here together this morning, it reminds us all of a few lucky things to be thankful for:

We’re thankful for your wisdom, the power that can steer us through difficult questions
We’re thankful for your forgiveness, for even the most heavenly of us make wrong decisions
We’re thankful for what you give to us, for from the food we eat to the table we sit around all come from your work.
We’re thankful for your strength, for in times of need, your hands help guide us and hold us.

But, most of all, Lord, we thank you for your grace of love upon us all and the open hearts to receive that love.  It’s as one family here at Nana and Pop Pop’s where this gift is most evident

In Jesus Christ’s name.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Morton Family Prayer- 1991


As we all gather here this morning, we want to thank you for caring and loving our growing family this past year.  With so many people and so many busy child hands to watch over, looking after this great big clan is a never-ending job.  But as we come here together Christmas morning, it is quite evident that this family has been blessed again this year.

You have watched over Nana and Pop Pop.  Pop Pop’s been given a clean bill of health, so much so that you’ve allowed them to go to Nashville on vacation.  You have watched over Aunt Jan on all her numerous travels and made Aunt Jeanne and Uncle Ken two most gracious new grandparents.  You have answered our prayers and brought Ricky back home from overseas.  It wasn’t quite the same without him. You have expanded our family again this year with the addition of three brand new bouncing babies in the shape of Nathan, Kylie and Eric.  Thank you for healthy pregnancies and healthy babies.

And thank you for not letting us grow out of Nana and Pop Pop’s house.  The growing numbers just literally bring us closer together.  It wouldn’t be the same anyplace else.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Morton Family Prayer- 1990


Every year, this is our special day that we celebrate your birthday by being together and exchanging gifts.  Our family is growing.  A new generation is emerging.  Lord, please give them peace, hope and those Morton strengths to give, to share and to love.

Lord, we thank you for spreading freedom and for making our world a better place to live in.  We thank you for touching our lives, keeping us focused on happiness and the will to build a better tomorrow.  We need to be thankful for every day that we can experience the gifts of life.

Lord, we pray to you for good health, and a continued closeness of the families.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Morton Family Prayer- 1989


We want to first say our family has to be very thankful for all the things you do and the strength you give us through the year.  As usual, it has been an up and down year.  The downs included the loss of Grandma Morton, our Uncle Don and a very unique individual, Uncle Adolf.  Lets all take a moment of silence in memory of our family.  Because our family is so spread out now, if anyone was overlooked, please speak up with their name so we don’t forget a loved one.  The ups include the miracle of Uncle Don’s eye becoming a donor to Pop Pop.  You heard our prayers for Grandpa.  All of us look forward to his love of the outdoors and his keeping constantly busy becoming a way of life for him again.  Wendy sure has an up with her Rob.  Everyone is working hard to impress him so he won’t get away.  What a catch, Wendy.  We all experienced an up when Heather’s scare was over.  It was a nervous time for all of us.  But, Heather’s a fighter and always comes through.  Our empathy went out to Bob Beck during the strike.  We’ve grown to admire Bob’s way to always make strong decisions when times get tough.  We are proud to love you, Bob.  John and Twila have experienced some tough going also.  It’s very uplifting to find them jumping into the struggle of life with both feet.  Lord, we thank you for the strength and the will you have given us to focus on a way out of problems.  It’s been the strength of Grandma Morton and Pop Pop that have shown us how to find a way to do what’s right.  Thank you, Lord, for our health and the “inner love” when it’s needed.  Before we close, does anyone else have a thought, an up, or a down to share with us this morning?  Thank you, Lord, for being the guiding light for these material gifts that we are about to receive.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Morton Family Prayer- 1988


We gather today at Christmas to celebrate the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  But there are other meanings.  What are they?

Christmas brings four generations together each year.
o To exchange gifts
o To socialize with finding out how everyone is doing
o To be introduced to new family members
o To celebrate with Grandma and Pop Pop’s famous Christmas breakfast
o To give thanks for the richness of our lives
o To know we have been blessed to have this Christmas experience year after year
o To realize what we take for granted, with all the family seeing, talking and touching- four generations of Mortons is indeed special

We pray to you this morning Lord, saying again as we do each year, THANK YOU.  We are truly blessed and appreciate what we have.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Morton Family Prayer- 1987


Thank you for bringing us together again to celebrate this special birthday of Jesus Christ.  We pray for Ricky and his new wife Sharon.  May their time in England bring them joy and happiness.  What a powerful day you brought us on Heather’s graduation day.  We also thank you for giving Heather the inner strength to fight off her cancer and look so beautiful this Christmas.  You answered all our prayers.  It was the all-time greatest Christmas present when Heather spent Christmas eve and Christmas morning with the Ken Morton family.  Somehow Santa remembered her with her own stocking.  We thank you for those special wedding days for Amy & Pat, John and Twila, and Greg and Christina.    May their lives be full of love and rich in togetherness.  We have new children in Stephanie and John Jr as well.  They both seem to be everything loving parents could ever  want.  This was a big year for the next generation.  We thank you for everything.

We ask you Lord to make the time right for Pop Pop’s transplant.  We know you do things for the right reasons.  We all pray for success when it happens.  It would make his life a fuller one.

We want you to know we are all thankful for what we have and appreciate all the love we have for each other.  Family unity and spirit is that common thread to security and knowing that people care.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Morton Family Prayer- 1982


Christmas is again a time that brings us all together.  A special time of joy and goodwill.  A time when we give thanks, share gifts and look to you for guidance.  A new generation is beginning, families are growing, styles and needs are changing.  Please help us keep the closeness, the love, the respect and all the great things that are so special about our family.  Times change but the hearts and soul of people shouldn’t.

This year, we should all pull together and say our prayers for Pop Pop.  He needs our strength and energy.  We know God will hear us and do what’s right.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Morton Family Prayer- 1980


We thank you for bringing us together again this day- your birthday.  This is 39 years Grandma and Pop Pop have had Christmas with all their children and grandchildren- unbelievable.

Lord, we look to you for our health, we hope Grandma gets to do those things in life she has missed by working so hard when she retires.  We wish Grandpa some nice trips and great fishing days.  For the rest of us, we know by working hard and believing in your guidance we will live a wonderful life.

Oh, Lord, this year we need something a little special.  Please bring Aunt Jeanne a tall, good-looking, rich boyfriend who likes to play golf.  Thank you, Lord.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Morton Family Prayer- 1978

Dear Lord,

This morning is a special morning.  A day we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  We trust in you to believe everything will turn out all right.  We hope again this year you will answer our prayers.

We are thankful to be all here and cherish this day.  Most of all, Lord, lead us and guide us in this New Year, and may we all be happy and above all else, healthy.