There is a statement that’s made a lot around this time of year as we push closer to Christmas: “I’m just not ready for Christmas; there’s still so much to do.”
Maybe you’ve said it too. Maybe already, here in this halfway-through-November point of the year the anxiety is already pressing in, the stress is building as another Christmas-y event gets slapped on the calendar.
Or maybe you’re not even to the point of Christmas yet. “Let’s get through Thanksgiving first, then we can talk Christmas stuff.”
Somehow this celebration of the most wonderful, amazing, incredible thing that has ever happened on the face of this earth has been relegated to holiday status.
We’ve lost the wonder of Christmas.
What happened to our wonder?
I remember as a child Christmas was the single most exciting time of the year. Even the air seemed to carry with it a brisk sense of celebration and I could not wait to get up early Christmas morning and celebrate.
Granted, for many years it was all about the presents. I liked getting new things. But once I hit high school and especially college, Christmas became something special.
One year–long after I had outgrown the whole waking up at 6am thing–I was jolted awake by a message coming in on my phone. I’d forgotten to turn it on silent the night before. Groaning, I rolled onto my side to see who had the audacity to text me so early in the morning.
It wasn’t a number I had saved, but the message was a simple “Merry Christmas.”
That couldn’t have waited a few hours? I thought, setting the phone back done on the dresser beside my bed and rolling to my other side.
I breathed deeply, closed my eyes, and prepared to slip back into dream-land until my eyes shot back open.
What am I doing? I thought, pushing myself out of bed. This is Christmas! It’s Jesus’ birthday! It’s meant to be a celebration, not a sleep fest!
It wasn’t even seven yet, and the rest of the house was still asleep, but I silently made my way downstairs with my journal and Bible, sat in view of the tree, and spent some time with Jesus, celebrating His birthday.
Somewhere along the way between childhood and where we stand now with busy schedules and long shopping lists, we lost the wonder of the Christmas celebration.
We can say until we are blue in the face that the reason for the season is Jesus, but until we get that into our hearts, until we allow the truth of the event of Jesus’ birth to touch us at a deep heart level, we’re going to keep walking around in a haze of busyness, isolating ourselves to celebrating only once we get everything done.
But if you’re here, if you’ve gotten this far in this post, that’s probably because you know it’s not supposed to be this way. Something in your heart longs for more–not more things to do, but more depth and wonder in this season of celebrating.
If so, I want to offer you some practical, life-giving ideas to help restore the wonder of this Christmas season:
How to get the wonder back and pressing into the advent season
1. Clear your schedule
Wonder is often lost because we are too busy to see it. This time of the year can get crazy busy with all of the shopping, events, pageants, services, parties, and service projects.
It’s a good idea to narrow down what’s most important and only stick those things on the calendar. That will mean saying some hard no’s to everything else, but remember, the point isn’t to pack up the schedule, but to empty it out so that we can focus on what’s truly important.
2. Keep a tradition
Several years ago my family started a Christmas tradition we call the Frank Family Christmas Movie Countdown. Every year around this time we pull out the fancy ballot my dad created with all of our Christmas movies listed down the left side, and we vote for the top ten movies we’d most like to watch.
Some of the movies, like Elf, are just plain fun. Others like A Charlie Brown Christmas and The Nativity share the Gospel message of Christ’s birth.
This simple tradition helps us gather together as a family and builds anticipation as we move toward number 1 on our list (which is always A Muppet’s Christmas Carol) and it builds excitement as we count down to Christmas Day.
3. Make daily time to remember what you are celebrating
Advent is a great way to set your eyes on Jesus and remember what these next several weeks are all about. If you’re not familiar with Advent, it’s a focused time of reflecting on Christ’s coming during during the four weeks leading up to Christmas. A lot of churches observe this season, but it’s also a great idea to have something you can work through on your own or with your family throughout the week.
This year I’ve written a Bible study called Fulfilled to help us get back to the wonder of Christmas.
Fulfilled is a free three week Bible study that takes some familiar passages of the Christmas narrative and breaths fresh life into them. We will dig deep into both Old and New Testament passages and see how Jesus is the fulfillment of every prophecy and promise made in the Old Testament. This study also comes with a free printable workbook to guide you through your days of personal study.
Christmas isn’t mean to be busy, familiar, or mundane. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year. Not because of snow or presents or that warm and fuzzy feeling we tend to get. But because of Jesus. He is the one we’ve been waiting for. He is the wonder of Christmas. And He is worth celebrating with all our hearts.
Live in His love!
Related: Fulfilled–an Advent Bible Study