By Kelly Carr
This season of preparing for Christmas can be fun or it can be stressful. Maybe you love the pomp and circumstance in every detail. Maybe you’d rather move on to the regularly scheduled programming of life. How do you approach these December days?
It seems anymore that there’s no getting around the reminder that festivity is underway in December. Of course it starts much earlier than that. This year I began to see Christmas decorations in the store aisles at the same time the Halloween costumes were on display. Are you kidding me?
With the way the holiday is marketed and thrown in our faces for commercial purposes, even the most jolly among us can begin to develop a Grinch-y attitude.
I’ve always enjoyed Christmas preparation from childhood onward. I come by it almost genetically, I suppose. My grandmother made her own wreaths and decorated her house to perfection. My aunt would create sweet treats to bring over. My dad loves to recall the stories behind each ornament on the tree. My mom has the gift of picking out the perfect, thoughtful gifts for others. So my childhood Decembers were filled with gatherings to decorate together, gatherings to bake together, and finally gatherings to exchange presents. Along the way there were Christmas lights and Christmas music and Christmas movies.
But now my grandmother can no longer put up her own decorations. And my aunt and two other dear relatives can’t travel in to be with us this year. So, as author Chad Rath points out in his article this week, Christmas anticipation is a little bittersweet for me. But as he and author Linda Gilden also suggest, I can adopt some new traditions; I can also find new ways to reach out to neighbors and friends.
Yet there is more than one way to prepare at Christmas. Beneath the external wrappings of shimmer and sparkle, there is a need to prepare my heart.
The most joyous parts of December to me (when I take the time to do them) are these: spending uninterrupted time with family; letting friends know how important they’ve been to me this year; trying to wrap my brain around the baffling concept that God chose to enact our salvation by coming to earth as one of us. When I give myself over to these matters, my heart is ready to see the holy in this holiday.
Whether this merry season is traditionally fun for you or merely something to get through, I hope you try something new this year. Try a new tradition. Try to spread goodwill. Try to let your loved ones know how much they are loved. Try to learn something new about Jesus.
Prepare your heart to be open to God’s Spirit this Christmas:
“‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived’—the things God has prepared for those who love him—these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit”
(1 Corinthians 2:9, 10).