What will your Christmas be this year?
Every year, it seems we fall into the same pattern. The moment the alarm clock rings on the day after Thanksgiving, our feet hit the floor and we fly about at warp speed, non-stop until the day after Christmas. It’s thirty days of madness. There’s the shopping to get done (with the pressure to find that one certain toy or thinking up something to get people who really don’t need anything), the kid’s Christmas (oops…winter celebration) programs at school, the office party, various gatherings of family and friends, some special services at the church, along with the added stress of backed-up traffic and long lines at the store with people doing exactly the same thing we’re doing.
One question: why?
Why do we grimace through the season of joy, focus on the mall in the season of the Christ, stress over the season of peace, check-list our way through a season of wonder?
Why? Because we choose to. Now, I know there are some things planned for you by others, but for the most part, our choices make our lives. We may not want to admit it, but we have to take responsibility for the shape of our life –even at the holidays.
But here’s the good news: there is hope for change—this year. If we choose to go along with the rest of the herd into franticness, then we can also choose a different path for our Christmas.
What might that look like? It will look different for every person, but let me make some suggestions to prime the pump for a more sane, more meaningful Christmas:
+ Every day, spend time at the manger. If you have a manger scene in your home, maybe you’ll stop right there. Ponder on the miracle of the Incarnation—that the eternal God took on flesh; that Jesus came as “Immanuel, which means God with us” in order to “save His people from their sins.” (Matt. 1:21,23) Read slowly through the Bible’s accounts of Jesus coming in Matt. 1-2, Luke 1-2, John 1. Maybe keep a simple journal with your thoughts or prayers. Or you might want to get a simple Advent calendar for the family to use each day at breakfast or dinner.
+ Listen to gospel-saturated, wonder-invoking music like Savior from Sovereign Grace Music, Behold the Lamb of God by Andrew Peterson, Handel’s Messiah by John Rutter & Cambridge Singers, A Festival of Carols by Robert Shaw, The Living Room Sessions: Christmas by Chris Rice, The Music of Christmas by Stephen Curtis Chapman, Christmas is Coming by Rob Mathes.
+ Read a Christmas devotional or novel. Of course, Christmas Carol (Dickens) is the classic. Then, there is Preparing for Jesus by Walter Wangerin, Christ in Christmas: A Family Advent Celebration, or The Christ of Christmas: An Advent Reader by Calvin Miller.
+ Visit with a senior or a shut-in who is not a member of your family and simply enjoy some hot chocolate and a conversation about their favorite Christmas memories.
+ Always stop at the red kettles and drop in some change (or a bill!).
+ Talk with a friend who needs a relationship with Jesus about why Christmas is so special to you, and why they, too, should “know and treasure Jesus above all things.” Christmas is a great time for those conversations.
You get the idea. Mostly, it’s about choosing to add
some space to your season.
Choose to slow down. Choose quiet. Choose to breathe. Choose love. Choose wonder… and enjoy your Christmas.