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I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord; “plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

the CULTIVATING

journal

Learning to Love Christmas Again

December 8, 2018



 

Christmas just doesn’t have the same flare that it used to have for me, now that I am nearly an adult.  When I was a child, I would literally count the days from October all the way to Christmas day in anxious anticipation.  Now, it’s like I’m just crossing my fingers that it won’t snow in a storm so that I won’t have to drive in the thick of the stuff.  When Christmas music starts up, I internally begin to scream because I know I will be sick of it before I even get to December.  What happened?  Did “reality” just sink in?  Or am I just going through the motions of adult life?

I think the truth of Christmas just got jumbled into everyday life and cultural distortions of the holidays for me.  I used to be able to distinguish my favorite seasonal enjoyments when I didn’t have many other cares in the world besides my childish dreams and delights.  Now, it’s as if all the delights of Christmas lose their flavor with each turn of the calendar pages that mark my life.

The culture makes Santa Claus, Christmas trees, gifts, food, and Christmas music the overwhelming focuses of the holiday.  Any of those things, in forced quantities, easily become distasteful in their costly extravagance, causing the celebration of the season to become an exhausting, tedious exercise that feels empty in the end.

Children don’t have to worry about the expenses or the exhaustion and they seem to adore the celebration in a bigger way than adults with their starlit eyes and excitement over gifts, lights, and new thrills.  Can adults learn to love Christmas just as much as they used to by changing their perspective and attitude?  We shouldn’t expect Christmas delights to come as they did when we were children, but can’t we try and learn to love the season by overcoming what our culture tells us about it?  

While writing this post, I’ve asked myself another question: “What can I always love about Christmas no matter what?”  I’ve decided to stick to the elements that I love throughout the season and to let them ground me to the truths that I know about Christmas.  Reminding myself what’s beautiful and sincere about Christmas helps me to prevail over the cultural noise.  Removing my childish focus on self is the only way to mature into a deeper understanding of Christmas.  

There are four basic elements of Christmas, all pertaining to selflessness, that make Christmas more meaningful as a young adult.  Perhaps they can help or encourage you to find a deeper enjoyment in the season.

  • Advent – The most important and foundational element of Christmas is to daily center heart, soul, and mind on the purpose and the gift of Christ’s arrival (advent) on earth.  The overall truth of the season is that the holiday is for celebrating the gift of Christ.  God sent down the ultimate gift for us, His only Son and our Savior.  Jesus Christ was sent to live among us, touching lives, hearts, and affecting our souls with grace and truth.  He is the reason for the season and that truth affects all other elements of Christmas and life itself. There are many ways to prepare our hearts for advent.  From calendars and wreaths to books and websites, setting aside time for daily meditation on the greatest gift ever given humanity is the perfect way to reduce self-focus.

 

  • Preparation – The second element of Christmas that I love, is decorating and preparing for the season.  God naturally graces this time of year with the beauty of snow.  Straightening up the house and changing the scenery inside to match the outside always renews my heart from the burden of work.  A breath of newness and reorganization fills my lungs and gives my mind a sense of readiness for the upcoming year.  Decorating is like a way of preparation for me, a method of priming myself for fresh adjustments before the new year.  This kind of preparation can be done in the small space of a bedroom or dorm room, or you can volunteer to help decorate at your church or for community events.

 

  • Generosity – The third element of Christmas that is close to my heart is gift giving.  This is a tangible way for others to see the love of Christ in action, that they may be blessed in His name.  It is a beautiful way to share God’s love with others who may not naturally be open to it.  Some people just need the gift of a hug or an acknowledgement to feel cared for.  In such acts, we can distribute much needed encouragement in even the darkest of places. And taking the time to select just that perfect gift . . .

 

  • Fellowship – The fourth element of this season is community and fellowship.  The night Jesus was born, a congregation of people, not previously acquainted, knelt in a cold, dingy stable and celebrated the birth of the King.  A group of people that you would not normally see together, gathered and fellowshipped together over His coming.  God loves it when we come together for His purposes.  When we gather for Him, in church or at life-giving events, He is pleased and we are blessed by each other’s company.  Whether it’s with one’s biological family or church family, getting together with others who share in the gift of the Holy Spirit to celebrate our love for Him and each other is one of the greatest blessings a Christian can experience on this earth.

   

My prayer for all of us as we mature in our understanding and celebration of Christmas is that God will help us to keep Him and His gift to us as the center of our attentions this season.    I pray that He will help to push all the cultural distractions to the backs of our minds, setting Him first and foremost in everything we do as we celebrate His gift to us.



The image of Christmas village in the globe is courtesy of Lancia E. Smith. 



 

Sadie Miller

comments

  1. David L. Bryant

    December 8th, 2018 at 10:30 pm

    That’s a great read Sadie.

  2. Diane Kullerstrand

    December 9th, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    I love it. I am getting more sentamental about Christmas in my older years. I find the traditions are meaningful and also the daily Advent readings or videos. I really find Christ and spiritual in those.

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