Christmas after Christmas I often hear people say that they struggle to find the Christmas spirit. They aren’t finding joy in the shopping, parties, cookie exchanges, decorations, and programs. These things are wearing them out, and they are left stressed.
I know I can feel this way when Christmas busyness gets in the way of the real meaning of Christmas.
I’m no scrooge. I love Christmas traditions. I love the hoopla of decorations, cookies, gifts, lights, movies, and music. And yes, even Santa. I love the child-like wonder of the season.
Yet, the real point of Christmas is treasuring Christ. Our pastor has been using this season to remind us to reflect and treasure Christ above all else.
But, how do we really do that with everything else going on? How do we make sure that the traditions of Christmas have not taken the place of Christ himself in our hearts?
We need to examine our hearts.
Are we seeking fullfillment in the festivities? Are we looking to our activities for satisfaction? Are we feeling increasingly stressed as the month wears on? These factors may indicate that we have turned our focus towards things rather than Christ.
I’m just as guilty as anyone.
One of the ways our family seeks to treasure Christ during Christmas is throught the celebration of Advent. Advent goes beyond turning little doors on a calendar, and can be a very meaningful way to focus on the coming of Christ.
During Advent we use a Jesse Tree during our devotions. I absolutely love doing this. Jesse Tree devotionals begin with the prophecy in Isaiah 11:1. It is the genealogy of Christ and weaves God’s covenant with us from the creation of the world and the fullfillment of the covenant in Christ’s coming. It is deeply meaningful and helps me and my children grasp God’s tapestry still more. Each day of Advent you will read a short passage from the Bible and add a corresponding ornament to your Jesse Tree. We have a 3 foot artificial tree to hang our ornaments. My children love taking turns adding the ornaments. Each ornament represents the passages you have read and will remind your heart each time you see them what Christmas is all about. Your heart will be stirred. The Christmas songs with meaning will become richer. It’s a great exercise that helps you pause and reflect.
I don’t know about you, but I need time to reflect during the holidays.
Even though the calendar is ticking away, it isn’t too late to start this tradition. You can double or triple up to make it to December 25th this year. There are several free resources online with devotionals and ornament templates. You can make your ornaments with your kids, or you can find premade ones online. I found an Etsy seller in Australia who made my felt ornaments, because I am not crafty. But, crafties will probably love making their own!
Find a quiet point in the day, gather your children around you, and read these verses. Make it a special, and coveted time. Light a candle. Gaze at your nativity. Have a warm drink. It only takes 5-10 minutes a day, but the benefits will be reaped many times over. Don’t set high expectations and let the “doing” become your focus. This isn’t one more thing to stress you. Little ones are learning to be still and ponder just like we all are. Know that God will work in their hearts and yours.