President Reagan's 1983 Address to the Nation on Christmas

December 23, 2019


President Ronald Reagan was known for countless stirring addresses that were able to bring together Americans—across the aisle, across backgrounds, and across beliefs. Reagan's Christmas radio address in 1983 was one such occasion and even now, more than 35 years later, it can still be looked to as a way to bring hope and healing to the nation every Christmas.


Reagan delivered the seminal speech on Christmas Eve from the Oval Office, focusing on two key tenets of the Christmas holiday — faith and family — and expertly interweaving another important principle: freedom. The president recounted the spirit of the season, recalling Christmas as the birth of Jesus, an idea that is all too often lost in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. He noted that no government, parliament or king had ever been able to spread peace and goodwill like Jesus had—an idea that was meant to inspire both a commitment to the true meaning of Christmas, as well as a call to action to Americans to strive to live that example.

Family was also a primary topic in Reagan’s Christmas radio address, as he referenced the young girl who had helped him light the official national Christmas tree, and noted her joy and hope. While many listeners were likely gathered with their own families that Christmas Eve, he encouraged them to think of families who were less fortunate — and to give thanks for the many Americans whose sacrifices enabled their family’s safety and prosperity, as well as those who work each day to provide meals for the hungry, shelter for the cold and support for the sick. That work, he said, demonstrates that the Christmas spirit is still alive and well, and that we only need to look to our fellow Americans, and all that we do to take care of one another, as proof — a message that still resonates today.

Those ideas extended across oceans as well, as Reagan’s Christmas radio address also urged listeners to pray for the needy in places like the Soviet Union and Lebanon, where American actions at the time were helping to spread freedom and independence. “With patience and firmness, we can help bring peace to that strife-torn region and make our own lives more secure,” the president said. “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 in God is the one sure answer to all the problems we face.”




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