The house is once again quiet as I sit in the glow of the Christmas tree, twinkling mantle lights, and crackling fireplace logs. No wrapped gifts are any longer stacked beneath the tree and the stockings are tucked away for the year.
Has Christmas ended?
I spend weeks before Christmas preparing for the day’s celebration. Shopping, baking, card writing, wrapping gifts, visiting friends and family, and attending Christmas concerts fills my calendar to the brim. Despite all the hustle and bustle, the wearying pace of all the weeks before Christmas, something else seems to happen as well.
I see little kindnesses exchanged between strangers in malls and grocery store lines, in greeting Salvation Army bell ringers, and mailmen in Santa hats. I see more patience here and there as people stand in Starbucks lines exchanging pleasantries. The kindnesses usually cost no money, but represent attitudes of heart and mind that I wish I saw throughout the year.
It’s true there is traffic, which can cause me to flee the mall parking lots and avoid certain streets. It’s also true that selfishness and lack of gratitude does not totally disappear. Even so, I observe a shift as the days before Christmas draw near.
I see more of us focusing on others than ourselves.
I see people looking for gifts or special ways to express care and love to others. I see some making sacrifices to make trips and travel to those living hundreds of miles away. I see people remembering those in nursing homes and hospitals they may not think of on more ordinary days.
What makes the difference we feel in the midst of the hubbub of the season?
Is it possible as many turn their focus to the birth of Jesus that His Spirit adjusts each of our hearts in some way?
I would like to think so.
Then perhaps the secret to keeping Christmas beyond December 25 is to allow Him access to our hearts each day to adjust our focus, our purpose, our attitude, and our stewardship on the other days of the year.
Perhaps we don’t need stacks of gifts and a glittering tree. Perhaps we don’t need tables laden with goodies, cards to write, or things to bake. Perhaps we don’t even need candles in windows or manger scenes on lawns to remind ourselves of Him whom we celebrate or those dear to us.
To keep Christmas every day means we keep our focus on the One whose birth we celebrate and live each day accordingly. When we do, we become more like Him. Our hearts soften, our focus clears, our choices reflect Him and His love a bit more and hope continues to flicker even during hard times and difficult seasons.
It is good to celebrate Christmas and savor each part that is dear to our hearts, but this year as so many challenges and uncertainties stack up in headlines and in our own homes, let’s keep the One whom we celebrate in clearer focus remembering once more in whom our hope lies.
Let us take comfort from the truth of the Babe who is now King and celebrate Him every day. That is how we keep Christmas!