The Yuletide carols say this is the “most wonderful time of the year”. It is true that Christmas is a beautiful time with colorful lights, joyful music, and generous giving; but it is also a very stressful time of the year if we lose sight of the true meaning of the holiday.
If I’m not careful, I get overwhelmed with the extra tasks on my to do list this time of the year. Just because it is Christmas doesn’t negate all the normal chores I have to do each day. I just add decorating the house, purchasing and wrapping gifts, overseeing children’s recital practices for the Christmas Eve service, writing the annual Christmas newsletter to family and friends, and doing extra baking to the already packed schedule. Somehow it all gets done. Now that my children are older, I delegate more. I’ve also cut some activities from the list. I no longer bake a variety of Christmas cookies, for example.
It is important to slow down this time of year to remember the real reason for Christmas: Christ’s birth and sharing the love that He came to earth to proclaim. Giving gifts is a love language; however retailers have blown gift giving out of proportion. It is nice to give and receive gifts, but let us not forget the real gift of the season: Jesus. He was born for the purpose of showing us how God wants us to live, to show us how God wants us to love, and to eventually take the penalty of our sin, an ultimate sacrifice of love that bridged the gap between sinful people and a righteous God. It is this time of the year that we remember His birth in a lowly stable with angels sharing the news with the shepherds and the wise men arriving bearing gifts. This event should bring beaming faces, rejoicing lips and hearts, and feelings of deep gratitude.
It is important to me that my children know the real Christmas story. Certainly we watch a variety of Christmas movies this time of year, but we incorporate the real meaning for the season to take the focus off the commercial and concentrate on the spiritual. My kids in home school build upon memorizing the Bible Christmas story, adding to it each year. On Christmas Eve, we attend a special service at church, then return home for hot cocoa, a candy cane, and cookies. I used to always read the Bible each Christmas morning, but now the kids like to take turns reciting the story so I follow along to give prompts if necessary. We do this before we open gifts. After our special Christmas meal, complete with a birthday cake for Jesus, we also enjoy watching the Nativity Story with a bowlful of popcorn.
So while December is a busier month visiting family and friends and all the rest, we still try to focus on Jesus. In the past, we have also done the Advent calendar with its readings and activities.
When it all boils down though, it isn’t what we do that makes the holiday bright. It’s the relationships we share and nurture with each other and with Jesus. That’s what makes this the “most wonderful time of the year”.
What special traditions have you incorporated into your celebration of the Lord’s birth?
Merry Christmas, everyone! God bless you with a healthy and safe holiday with your loved ones.