Bringing Christmas to Life

Are the holidays alive to you?  Or is the Christmas
spirit reserved for fictitious characters in warm-hearted movies?  We all
know what Christmas is supposed to feel like, complete with sugary snacks and
deep feelings of family togetherness.

But the realists among us only feel our spirits lifted by a
ballooning credit card bill, a spouse that remembers a long lost relative who
“needs” a gift (there goes another $45), and an ever expanding Christmas card
list.  We feel pressure to buy, pressure to impress in-laws, pressure to
do something Christmasy with the kids, and even pressure to create happy

Not that all of that is bad.  Some of us need a little
push to keep us from scrooging our way through the end of the year.  But
is there a secret to really “feeling” Christmas, instead of just singing about

If Christmases are flying by and that special feeling seems
like a distant, suggested memory from childhood, perhaps these tips will bring
your holiday season to life:

1.  Out of your Christmas card list, pick the five
people to whom you are the closest (spouse, children, best friends, etc.) and
do more than just sign their card.
  Write out five reasons why you love
and appreciate them.  Don’t be afraid to express yourself, even if you
aren’t normally an emotional person.  After all, Christmas is about
giving, and encouragement (while free) might be the most valuable gift you
could give.

2.  Looking at that same Christmas card list, find a
family or individual who has struggled this year
.  As a family, plan to do
something special for or with that person before December 25th
Go out of your way to do something unexpected, something surprisingly
generous.  You’ll brighten someone’s season and experience the truth of Jesus’
statement: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

3.  Host a small Christmas party at your house
When I think “party,” I tend to think in large numbers, which discourages me
from getting it together.  Packing forty people into my living room and
shelling out big bucks to feed them isn’t my idea of a relaxing holiday
evening.  So try this instead: invite three couples over for a meal,
asking each participant to bring part of the menu.  Have your favorite
Christmas CD playing in the background as you talk about Christmas memories and
family moments.  Add a spiritual side to your “party” by taking time to
pray for each person in the room, and their family, as they approach the
holiday season.  Break out a party game to finish off the evening.

4.  Schedule a family evening.  Yes, everyone’s
busy.  That’s why you should get this on the calendar early in the
month.  Plan an evening to bake cookies, wrap presents, or watch a
Christmas classic as a family.  Enjoy one another without the distraction of
appointments and visitors, etc.

5.  Read the Christmas story (the real one).  I
recently saw a movie in which the characters were discussing the true meaning
of Christmas, and a child was asked if he had heard the Christmas story
before.  Indicating that he didn’t remember, the others began to recite,
“Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house…”  As touching
as the movie was, there was a problem.  That’s not the Christmas
story!  For the real deal, open your Bible to Matthew 1:18-2, and then
flip to Luke 2:1-18. 

In the end, Christmas isn’t just a feel-good
celebration.  Christmas is a time when the people of earth celebrate the
birth of the King, Jesus Christ, and his sacrifice to bring hope and salvation
to the world. 

The holidays can come alive to you.  It’ll take a
little time, a little commitment, and a little faith.  But you just might
start agreeing with that familiar tune, “It’s the most wonderful time of the


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