Don’t you just love the holiday season? Houses get facelifts with decorations. Friends and family exchange carefully selected presents and Christmas cards filled with heartfelt sentiments. Parties pop up all around solely to celebrate Christmas. Christians corporately raise their voices to praise the birth of the Messiah, bells ring out, and hearts sing with the message.
Have you ever found yourself asking, “What can I carry with me from this season into the New Year?” I am not talking about becoming the lady who leaves her Christmas tree up all year so she doesn’t have to bother decorating it again. (How would one dust that, anyway?)
What can we keep doing to maintain the joy this season brings?
Open our lives:
When God nudges, respond. During the Christmas season, it is somewhat expected that we interact with friends and family. During the rest of the year, if we are not careful, it is all too easy to let work and everyday life clamp down and shut us off from others. I believe that God puts people in our paths for definite reasons that we don’t always understand unless we invest in the relationships.
Invite friends on a whim. Dust can be on the furniture, peanut butter smudges on the wall…no one will notice if the conversion is good and the atmosphere is warmed by the love you share.
Don’t worry about perfection. My mother always says there is no “tacky” when you decorate for Christmas. I take the “less is more” approach. Whichever way you go with decorating at any time during the year , lean fully into your style, believe in yourself and don’t worry about what others think. Judging yourself by others standards will keep your front door closed and locked for sure.
Share the work. In the past, I always assured others that they could just come and enjoy when they offered to help. Now, I’ve gotten smart and if you ask to help, I take you up on it. Remember all the traditions that revolve around food featured on this website? Everyone has something they like to cook and share. The result is less fatigue for the host and more enjoyment of the time spent with family and friends. What I ultimately hope others see in my home is that it is a place of refuge, warmth and love throughout the whole year.
Open our eyes:
See the needs of others. There is a reason that the holiday season is filled with opportunities to give to charities. God saw the needs of this sinful world and sent the ultimate gift, His Son, to save us from the consequence of our sin, death. We were given eternal life. We need to see the world as Jesus saw it and respond, as He did, with empathy and compassion, not just during Christmas, but all year long. There is something raw about the story of Christ’s birth. We need to not get caught up in the mundane routines of life in such a way that we can’t or don’t see the humanity around us every moment.
Look through the façade. Don’t be fooled by a cloak of false happiness and apparent contentment in those who are suffering. Take time to really listen to others and see them as they are.
Be present. At holiday times, we often have opportunities to connect with friends and family. Make efforts throughout the year to see those you don’t often see; or, if proximity prohibits…text, call or email routinely.
Open our hands:
Live a life of service. Even after December, we need to look for opportunities to help feed the poor (maybe as a family venture) and clothe the needy (clean out those closets!).
See work as a service area, also. If you seek to serve in your work environment, the fabric of your workday and your attitude towards it may change in surprising ways.
Volunteer. Find your passion and connect that interest with a need that exists in the community. God created us to serve one another. If we honor the gifts He has granted us and use them for the common good, according to His will, then all involved will be blessed. Don’t try to be someone you are not. The shepherds were the shepherds and the wise men, the wise men. They both served God’s purpose.
Open our hearts:
Respond to the message of Christmas. What is the message? Love, sacrifice, humility, faith, miracle, action, conviction, grace, love. First and last, the message of Christmas is love.
Christ came to earth in human form…a baby lying in a manger. It was a humble birth. He lived, growing up as a carpenter’s son. Only, he was more than that. He, the Son of the Living God, came to save our souls. He lived a humble life and died a terrible death…for us. He conquered death and we now live with the promise of eternal life if we accept Christ as the Son of God, our Savior…his sacrifice is our Salvation. Christ is love incarnate.
Continue to gaze out on this season of delight for a few more days. Ponder the times that have touched your heart the most. Reshape the moments, the interactions, and the traditions so that you can pick some of them up and carry them with you into the New Year.
But don’t forget to carry the message of the newborn babe. Bring joy to the world! That’s the biggest Christmas takeaway of all.
image courtesy of http://www.heartlight.org
Have a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!