When I was younger, I used to entertain fantasies of forcing my children to listen to all of Milton’s Ode on the Morning of Christ’s Nativity before letting them open their presents. I’ve never done it, but I do make them listen to a paragraph of a John Donne sermon before Thanksgiving dinner:
God made Sun and Moon to distinguish seasons, and day, and night, and we cannot have the fruits of the earth but in their seasons: But God hath made no decree to distinguish the seasons of his mercies; In paradise, the fruits were ripe the first minute, and in heaven it is alwaies Autumne, his mercies are ever in their maturity. We ask panem quotidianum, our daily bread, and God never sayes you should have come yesterday, he never sayes you must again to morrow, but to day if you will heare his voice, to day he will heare you. If some King of the earth have so large an extent of Dominon, in North, and South, as that he hath Winter and Summer together in his dominions, much more hath God mercy and judgment together: He brought light out of darknesse, not out of a lesser light; he can bring thy Summer out of Winter, though thou have no Spring; though in the wayes of fortune, or understanding, or conscience, thou have been benighted till now, wintred and frozen, clouded and eclypsed, damped and benummed, smothered and stupified till now, now God comes to thee, not as in the dawning of the day, not as in the bud of the spring, but as the Sun at noon to illustrate all shadowes, as the sheaves in harvest, to fill all penuries. All occasions invite his mercies, and all times are his seasons.