Emerging from Thanksgiving holiday with an expanded waist line and a heart full of gratitude I look toward the Christmas Holidays with excitement. Several years ago I found that I was succumbing to the busyness of purchasing presents, planning travel, participating in Christmas pageants and parties, all of which crowded out the quiet anticipation of the season. Too many Christmas mornings I’ve realized that while my presents were wrapped, my heart was completely unprepared to truly take in the Gift. Therefore, I established a strategic plan (can you imagine a strategic plan for Christmas, remember God had one), well I did. For me, without a plan I have tendencies to let things fall through the cracks.
To you the reader, you must keep in mind June and I have Christmas a week prior to the actual date in order for our family (three sons, three daughters-in-law and ten grandchildren) to spend the holiday with us free of conflicts with other family festivities. It works greats and gives us two Christmas celebrations. Strategically, the challenge is multifaceted and my goal is to arrive at Christmas with the main thing the main thing.
Christmas as the Advent Season. This is the first area of concentration. It helps me to focus. If you have never concentrated on this very special activity, I encourage you to immerse yourself in it. Remember advent means “coming”. It is celebrated by hundreds of thousands of Christians throughout the world. My first recommendation to anyone who wants to arrive at Christmas with a sense of ‘Christmas Spirit’ is to learn as much about the Advent Season as possible. If necessary, go to your local book store and purchase a book that gives a description of the four weeks prior to Christmas, the celebration and its meaning. During each week have a discussion at the meal table about the week’s Advent candle. Try to encourage the habit of recognizing the coming of Christ in our everyday lives all year round.
Secondly, the first week of December get out the decorations. Yes, you got it, no Christmas decorations come out until Thanksgiving is over. Over the years we have amassed a ‘ton’ of decorations. Yes, we ask ourselves; “do we want to do this again this year, the children are gone and it’s just the two of us.” You bet!!! Do your homework and discover the historical significance of every decoration and be sure they point to Christmas. Equally important is you know why we use lights, Christmas trees, candles in the windows, poinsettias, and the list goes on. If there are small children in the home be sure you discuss the significance of the decorations with them. Make decorating a family project. When the last ornament goes on the tree, daddy, gather the family around the tree, hold hands and offer a prayer of love, hope and above all abiding faith. If there are no children in your home for this occasion, husband an wife should continue with this special event. Don’t forget the hot chocolate and mistletoe.
Several years ago June and I decided to not exchange Christmas gifts. This is not a tradition for everyone, but one we wanted to do. Instead, we combined the cost each of us would spend and decided to give a gift anonymously to someone, or to an organization or organizations that truly embrace the true meaning of Christmas. Early on we begin praying that God would reveal that person (s) or organization to whom He would have us give our gift. For the record, we have never failed to receive, without question, that person(s) to be the recipient. Guess who receives the blessing. Keep in mind this entire thought came from the concept of receiving a gift. At Christmas we celebrate the Gift of the Christ Child that God has given us. For God so loved the world He gave………
As part of our strategic plan, one that I endorse with great enthusiasm, occurs Christmas eve with Vesper Services.—-Vesper services in your local church. What a great way for the family to celebrate. Many times family traditions at Christmas Eve don’t provide time for this activity. Additionally, many churches do not have Vesper Services. If there is a local church that does, I would encourage you and your family to attend and afterwards go to that special traditional Christmas Eve event. This is a great way to bring a Holy end to the road to Christmas.
Finally, one last thought concerning the road to Christmas. Quiet your mind. Read a psalm and let it sink into your heart. Sit in a patch of Son-light. Put on Handel’s Messiah. Just listen. Give yourself a quiet half hour alone so you can sit at His feet, basking in the one thing needful. Christmas brings us a most magnificent message—–The most Magnificent Message. Of all things, remember this.