An excerpt from 'Life on Christmas Eve' — a new novel by Nathan Nipper

The following is the opening chapter of my debut novel, Life on Christmas Eve. It's about a small-town woman who is baffled to find her life suddenly imitating It's a Wonderful Life and her quest to understand why leads to a life-changing encounter with a vulnerable stranger on Christmas Eve.

This story's themes of faith, grace, generosity, and the inherent value of each person's life form a timely message for our nation's current polarization.

Glenn says, "I love this book. It's funny, fast-paced, and whimsical — a joyful celebration of family and faith that sweeps you along to a surprising finale that will melt your heart. This is ideal Christmas-time reading, the kind of moving, life-affirming story the world needs right now."

Life on Christmas Eve is available now from booksellers nationwide.

You can listen to Glenn read the opening chapter here:

Chapter 1

As Julie discovered, Christmas Eve in her hometown of Cedar Springs was an ideal time to do something odd in a public setting. With most folks preoccupied with family celebrations at home, the likelihood of one's curious behavior garnering notice, let alone being questioned, drastically diminished. Julie counted on the streets being mostly deserted after dark because she could not adequately explain her current enterprise: sitting by herself in a collapsible camping chair at one end of the small town's iconic steel truss bridge.

It was 6:05 p.m., and snow descended in weighty clumps from the starless, black-matted sky. Julie knew she looked bizarre wrapped in a sleeping bag and blankets, a thermos of hot cocoa at her feet, like she was waiting for a parade to start or camping out in line for concert tickets. She felt entirely self-conscious and was the first to question her own sanity. She also felt inexplicably compelled to be there at that very moment, though the compulsion was not quite strong enough to chase away her potential embarrassment.

As a few cars traversed the narrow two-lane bridge at a leisurely holiday pace, Julie tried burrowing deeper into the canvas seat of her camping chair, as if it might help conceal her from the glow of the headlight beams. Some motorists noticed her; others did not, or at least pretended not to. She was rather hard to miss in her prominent seated position on the sidewalk that ran alongside the decades-old bridge railing. One car slowed as it approached, and she tensed with fear the driver would stop to ask questions. It was not an unfounded fear. Julie loved her salt-of-the-earth fellow Cedar Springs citizens, but one less desirable common trait in the community was a tendency toward nosiness. Sometimes a gal just wanted to be left well enough alone. And there was never a greater such instance than the one in which she placed herself that evening. Julie instantly prepared a contingent reply to any inquiries. She would say she was "just enjoying the snow," or something similarly lame, which would be truthful without divulging the actual reason for her visit to the bridge. She made a snap decision to smile and wave enthusiastically at the craned-neck driver, figuring that might better discourage questioning than if she sat motionless, hoping not to be noticed. Fortunately, the car continued on its way.

Julie did not want to be interrogated because no rational explanation existed for why she sat by herself on the bridge in the freezing Christmas Eve air. The truth was that she was waiting for something to happen. She had no idea what, just the most persistent hunch it would be something important. The only similarly strong intuition she recalled having in her life was the time in fifth grade when she was almost certain she was going to get a full-size backyard trampoline for Christmas. Alas, no trampoline materialized.

Just as she was about to laugh off her intuition incompetence and rejoin the sane world, something did happen.

While Julie contemplated packing up her solo bridge-watch party, she began dozing. With the hot cocoa, the abundance of fleecy layers, and the soothing lull of the icy river cascading over the boulders directly below the bridge, her surroundings soon faded into a wintry fog. She resisted the first couple of head-bobs but quickly gave up the fight and drifted off.

Julie was only asleep for a couple of minutes when a violent, metallic clatter jolted her awake, her left leg involuntarily flailing in the process. Her eyes fluttered open and she brushed the wet snowflakes from her face. She leaned forward in her chair, momentarily disoriented, and surprised to realize she had fallen asleep. Glancing cautiously back and forth, she hoped no further passersby had witnessed her conked out on the bridge like that, as it would be impossible to explain her way out of that one.

Having regained her bearings, she peered straight ahead, squinting through the thickly falling snow across the bridge. She could make out a dingy blue and white pickup truck with its right front fender crumpled against the dense trunk of a majestic cedar tree, one of several such trees just off the shoulder of the road near the start of the bridge.

Julie stood, trying to gather her senses and find her phone. She checked her coat pockets, the camping chair, and the snow-caked concrete around her to no avail. Perfect, she thought, figuring she left it at home. The unscathed driver's side door of the crashed pickup truck slowly opened with a rusty, drawn-out squeal, interrupting Julie's annoyance at forgetting her phone. As she watched, a haggard teenage girl tumbled out of the cab and fell to her knees in the snow. She lingered on the bitter cold ground for a moment, weeping loud enough for Julie to hear. The girl picked herself up and stumbled alongside the guardrail for several yards until she stepped onto the sidewalk of the bridge. Julie froze at the alarming scene unfolding in slow motion. In her sleepy stupor, Julie could not settle fast enough on the best course of action.

Oblivious to Julie's presence, the girl's deep, sorrowful crying persisted as she trudged aimlessly through the ankle-deep snow of the bridge's sidewalk. Julie noted the girl wore only a sweatshirt and jeans, which had to be scant protection against the night's biting cold. The teen stopped near the middle of the bridge and leaned over the railing, prompting Julie to shift forward uneasily in her chair. Beneath the bridge, the churning dark river surged over and around large, smooth boulders on its way toward the falls. The girl's shoulders convulsed with her breathless sobs. From Julie's vantage point, she assumed the girl must be feeling sick.

Julie looked around, suddenly hoping for a crowd. But the streets were empty and quiet, as if the town was taking a deep breath, finally about to allow itself a respite from all the frenetic Christmas preparations. Julie and the teenage girl remained the only two souls on the bridge.

Finally, Julie's habitual compassion overruled her hesitation. With a deep breath of her own, she stood, unfurled herself from the blankets, unzipped her sleeping bag, and piled them on the camping chair. Then, she cautiously approached the grieving stranger. Between the din of the rushing river and her own weeping, the girl did not hear the crunch of snow underfoot as Julie crossed the bridge toward her…

Nathan Nipper writes for television, radio, and online media at Mercury Radio Arts. He previously authored the nonfiction book Dallas 'Til I Cry, which won the 2014 MLS Book of the Year Reader's Choice Award from WorldSoccerTalk.com. He lives in North Texas with his phenomenal wife, daughter, and two sons. Life on Christmas Eve is his first novel.

Are your kids doing well in school? They might not be doing as well as you think.

A recent study found that the majority of parents in the US think their children are doing better in school than they actually are, and we largely have COVID to thank for that.

Due to the disastrous educational and social policies implemented during the COVID pandemic, millions of kids across the country are lagging and are struggling to catch up. They are further impeded by technology addiction, mental illness, and the school system, which is trying to mask just how bad things are. However, due to continued COVID-era policies like grade inflation, your kid's report card may not reflect the fallen educational standards since 2020.

Here are five facts that show the real state of America's youngest citizens. It's time to demand that schools abandon the harmful COVID-era policies that are failing to set our children up for success.

Gen Alpha is struggling to read

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Literacy is the foundation of education. Being able to read and write is paramount to learning, so when a young student struggles to gain literacy, it severely impacts the rest of their education. According to a 2021 report from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP):

In 2019, some 35 percent of 4th-grade students and 34 percent of 8th-grade students performed at or above NAEP Proficient.

This means that 65 percent of 4th-graders and 66 percent of 8th-graders performed below NAEP proficient. As to be expected, the effects of this lack of literacy are still being felt. A 2024 report called the "Education Recovery Scorecard" created by Harvard and Stanford researchers found that in 17 states, students are more than a third of a grade level behind pre-pandemic levels. Moreover, in 14 states, students are more than a third of a grade level behind in reading specifically.

Grade inflation

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If you thought the U.S. dollar was the only thing suffering from inflation, you would unfortunately be mistaken. Grades are also being inflated, caused by more lenient grading practices that began during the pandemic and have yet to return to normal. While students undoubtedly love this practice at the momentafter all, who doesn't like an easy A?in the long run, it only makes their lives more difficult.

This practice has seen attendance and test scores drop while GPAs rise, making it more difficult for colleges to decide which students to accept, as more and more students have 4.0s. Students are also less prepared for the increased workload and stricter standards they will face when they start college. Overall, there has been a decline in preparedness among students, which will inevitably cause issues later in life.

Failure is no longer an option (literally)

To mask just how ill-prepared students have become, some universities have decided to double down on their grading system. Some schools, like Oregon University, have decided that they will no longer give students failing grades. Instead, if a student fails a class, they will simply receive no grade, thus keeping their academic record blemish-freebecause heaven forbid a student should face the consequences of their own actions.

These universities are doing a real disservice to an entire generation of students. To cover up their failures, they are waving students through their programs, failing to prepare them for the world they will face.

Addiction to tech

Tech addiction has been a concern for parents since before the pandemic, but unsurprisingly, the lockdowns only made it worse. A 2023 study showed that internet addiction in adolescents nearly doubled during the lockdowns when compared to pre-pandemic numbers. This doesn't come as a surprise. Forcing kids to stay inside for months with the internet as their sole connection to the outside world is the perfect recipe for addiction to tech.

Mental illness

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The mental health crisis has been growing across the world for decades now, but it took a turn for the worse during the pandemic. Both a study from Iceland and Australia recorded a decline in the mental health of their youth during the pandemic, and a study out of San Francisco measured physical changes to the brains of children that resembled the brains of people who suffered childhood trauma.

5 SURPRISING ways space tech is used in your daily life

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Is your vacuum cleaner from SPACE?

This week, Glenn is discussing his recent purchase of a Sputnik satellite, which has got many of us thinking about space and space technology. More specifically, we've been wondering how technology initially designed for use outside Earth's atmosphere impacted our lives down here on terra firma. The U.S. spent approximately $30 billion ($110 billion in today's money) between the Soviet launch of Sputnik in 1957 and the Moon Landing in 1969. What do we have to show for it besides some moon rocks?

As it turns out, a LOT of tech originally developed for space missions has made its way into products that most people use every day. From memory foam to cordless vacuums here are 5 pieces of space tech that you use every day:

Cellphone camera

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Have you ever seen a photograph of an early camera, the big ones with the tripod and curtain, and wondered how we went from that to the tiny little cameras that fit inside your cellphone? Thank NASA for that brilliant innovation. When you are launching a spaceship or satellite out of the atmosphere, the space onboard comes at a premium. In order to make more room for other equipment, NASA wanted smaller, lighter cameras without compromising image quality, and the innovations made to accomplish this goal paved the way for the cameras in your phone.

Cordless vacuums and power tools

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When exploring the moon, NASA wanted astronauts to use a drill to collect samples from the lunar surface. The problem: the moon has a severe lack of electrical outlets to power the drills. NASA tasked Black & Decker with developing a battery-powered motor powerful enough to take chunks out of the moon. The resulting motor was later adapted to power cordless power tools and vacuums in households across America.

Infrared ear thermometer

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What do distant stars and planets have in common with your eardrum? Both have their temperature read by the same infrared technology. The thermometers that can be found in medicine cabinets and doctors' offices across the world can trace their origins back to the astronomers at NASA who came up with the idea to measure the temperature of distant objects by the infrared light they emit.

Grooved pavement

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This one may seem obvious, but sometimes you need a massively complicated problem to come up with simple solutions. During the Space Shuttle program, NASA had a big problem: hydroplaning. Hydroplaning is dangerous enough when you are going 70 miles an hour in your car, but when you're talking about a Space Shuttle landing at about 215 miles per hour, it's an entirely different animal. So what was NASA's space-age solution? Cutting grooves in the pavement to quickly divert water off the runway, a practice now common on many highways across the world.

Memory foam

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If you've ever slept on a memory foam mattress, it probably won't come as a shock to find out that the foam was created to cushion falls from orbit. Charles Yotes was an astronautical engineer who is credited with the invention of memory foam. Yotes developed the technology for the foam while working on the recovery system for the Apollo command module. The foam was originally designed to help cushion the astronauts and their equipment during their descent from space. Now, the space foam is used to create some of the most comfortable mattresses on Earth. Far out.

5 most HORRIFIC practices condoned by WPATH

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Whatever you know about the "trans movement" is only the tip of the iceberg.

In a recent Glenn TV special, Glenn delved into Michael Schellenberger's "WPATH files," a collection of leaked internal communications from within the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). Glenn's research team got their hands on the WPATH files and compiled the highlights in Glenn's exclusive PDF guide which can be downloaded here. These documents reveal the appalling "standards" created and upheld by WPATH, which appear to be designed to allow radical progressive surgeons to perform bizarre, experimental, and mutilating surgeries on the dime of insurance companies rather than to protect the health and well-being of their patients. These disturbing procedures are justified in the name of "gender-affirming care" and are defended zealously as "life-saving" by the dogmatic surgeons who perform them.

The communications leaked by Schellenberger reveal one horrific procedure after another committed in the name of and defended by radical gender ideology and WPATH fanatics. Here are five of the most horrifying practices condoned by WPATH members:

1.Trans surgeries on minors as young as 14

One particular conversation was initiated by a doctor asking for advice on performing irreversible male-to-female surgery on a 14-year-old boy's genitals. WPATH doctors chimed in encouraging the surgery. One doctor, Dr. McGinn, confessed that he had performed 20 such surgeries on minors over the last 17 years!

2.Amputation of healthy, normal limbs

BIID, or Body Integrity Identity Disorder, is an “extremely rare phenomenon of persons who desire the amputation of one or more healthy limbs or who desire a paralysis.” As you might suspect, some WPATH members are in favor of enabling this destructive behavior. One WPATH commenter suggested that people suffering from BIID received "hostile" treatment from the medical community, many of whom would recommend psychiatric care over amputation. Apparently, telling people not to chop off perfectly healthy limbs is now considered "violence."

3.Trans surgeries on patients with severe mental illnesses

WPATH claims to operate off of a principle known as "informed consent," which requires doctors to inform patients of the risks associated with a procedure. It also requires patients be in a clear state of mind to comprehend those risks. However, this rule is taken very lightly among many WPATH members. When one of the so-called "gender experts" asked about the ethicality of giving hormones to a patient already diagnosed with several major mental illnesses, they were met with a tidal wave of backlash from their "enlightened" colleges.

4.Non-standard procedures, such as “nullification” and other experimental, abominable surgeries

If you have never heard of "nullification" until now, consider yourself lucky. Nullification is the removal of all genitals, intending to create a sort of genderless person, or a eunuch. But that's just the beginning. Some WPATH doctors admitted in these chatlogs that they weren't afraid to get... creative. They seemed willing to create "custom" genitals for these people that combine elements of the two natural options.

5.Experimental, untested, un-researched, use of carcinogenic drugs 

Finasteride is a drug used to treat BPH, a prostate condition, and is known to increase the risk of high-grade prostate cancer as well as breast cancer. Why is this relevant? When a WPATH doctor asked if anyone had used Finasteride "to prevent bottom growth," which refers to the healthy development of genitals during puberty. The answer from the community was, "That's a neat idea, someone should give it a go."

If your state isn’t on this list, it begs the question... why?

The 2020 election exposed a wide range of questionable practices, much of which Glenn covered in a recent TV special. A particularly sinister practice is the use of private money to fund the election. This money came from a slew of partisan private sources, including Mark Zuckerberg, entailed a host of caveats and conditions and were targeted at big city election offices— predominantly democratic areas. The intention is clear: this private money was being used to target Democrat voters and to facilitate their election process over their Republican counterparts.

The use of private funds poses a major flaw in the integrity of our election, one which many states recognized and corrected after the 2020 election. This begs the question: why haven't all states banned private funding in elections? Why do they need private funding? Why don't they care about the strings attached?

Below is the list of all 28 states that have banned private funding in elections. If you don't see your state on this list, it's time to call your state's election board and demand reform.

Alabama

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Arizona

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Arkansas

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Florida

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Georgia

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Idaho

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Indiana

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Iowa

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Kansas

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Kentucky

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Louisiana

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Mississippi

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Missouri

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Montana

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Nebraska

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North Carolina

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North Dakota

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Ohio

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Oklahoma

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Pennsylvania

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South Carolina

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South Dakota

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Tennessee

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Texas

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Utah

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Virginia

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West Virginia

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Wisconsin

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