It happens every year around this time- the Christmas season burnout. I start off bubbling over with joy and intentions of focusing on the Nativity, right after putting up the tree and all the decorations.
I’m on top of making each day of Advent meaningful. I execute crafts and lessons that center around Jesus’ birth.
As it draws closer to Christmas, however, I start fearing I won’t get to everything on my checklist.
My mind races as I mentally plan out how I can cram all of those special activities and memories with my children in the days left until December 25.
Then I get stressed, doing the very things that were supposed to help me focus on the true meaning of this holiday.
My natural inclination is to do more, when in fact I need to do less. Christmas shouldn’t be about a checklist; it should be about Christ.
There are so many articles out there about how I can make this Christmas the most memorable, the most purposeful, the most Christ-centered… I end up just wanting to crawl under the tree to hide.
Sadly, Christmas becomes something to do rather than something to enjoy. Eventually instead of dancing through the house singing Christmas songs, I’m snapping at my kids and stealing their holiday spirit just like the Grinch.
So here’s what I’m doing instead, to focus on the Person who brings joy rather than chasing a feeling of joy.
1. Sit at His Feet
In the midst of my busy preparations I’ve felt the Lord say, “Stop doing all the things and just rest in my presence.”
So the other night when not a creature was stirring, I sat by the light of the tree, got comfy, and had some quiet reflection of what Christmas really means to me and my family.
It’s God coming down and leaving all the riches of Heaven to be one of us. On a similar dark night, the shepherds worshipped their Savior, offering little but their hearts and adoration.
Shouldn’t I celebrate Christmas in the same way: humbly and simply? An Advent plan, though well-intentioned, shouldn’t take the place of “come let us adore Him”.
2. Meditate on Scripture about the Nativity
I have set aside some time each day to read through the Christmas Story with my children. We’re reading a little bit at a time, beginning in Luke 1:1-2:40 and then Matthew 1:18-2:23.
Joy that sustains throughout this season is found in these verses. I especially love Luke 2:10-11 which says,
“… For behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (emphasis mine)
These scriptures will also last us throughout the year, long after the presents have been opened and the decorations have been put away.
This kind of joy doesn’t fade with the unplugging of the tree lights, or with the disposal of wrapping paper and bows.
3. Sing Christmas Carols
These hauntingly beautiful hymns contain such rich biblical truth in them. And Josh Groban’s rendition of O Holy Night? Chills every time.
“Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing”
“Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel”
“Remember Christ the Savior was born on Christmas Day, to save us all from Satan’s power when we had gone astray”
These words speak to me of the reason that we celebrate Christmas in the first place. Because God took on flesh and made Himself known to us in a very personal way.
Because He humbled Himself to experience everything that we do on earth and took back the power over death, we never have to face life alone.
We can worship Jesus simply by singing these words and letting them sink deep down into our hearts, affirming He is our Savior who is worthy to be praised.
Joy is not a feeling I can catch during the Christmas season and hold onto.
I need to be deliberate about focusing on Christ, otherwise my spirit is squelched when I discover that a gift is on back order, or when there are long lines at the store, or when my kids are crabby because they’ve had too much sugar at all the Christmas parties.
I can feel joyful passing down traditions to my children to celebrate this time of year, but that kind of Christmas spirit always leaves me wanting. True joy only comes from knowing Jesus.
And if you absolutely feel like you must participate in an Advent activity of some kind, try one that involves a simple weekly plan, instead of one that requires crafting or lessons for 25 days straight.
Let’s slow down, simplify, and savor this season. Come rest in the Christ of Christmas with me!