I remember one Christmas Day, when our children were small, our daughter stood in a sea of ripped wrapping paper, lifted some of the larger pieces, and exclaimed, “Is that all”?
We had been to multiple family celebrations over the course of several days. Each included a time of opening presents. Now, after much gift-opening, excitement, and festivities, the celebration was over.
Nothing is as over as Christmas Day is when it’s over. Suddenly, the tree looks droopier without a mound of presents beneath and the Christmas decorations feel like clutter. But the joy of Christmas doesn’t have to end once the actual day is past.
Here are some keys to maintaining the joy of Christmas in the New Year:
Often, we only think about expressing gratitude at Thanksgiving, but, with a little cultivation, thankfulness can become an attitude of the heart. One of the best ways to usher joy into the New Year is by beginning a gratitude journal. You might not have an entry every day, but make note of the ways you are blessed and keep a running list. As you write, ponder the item, person, or event for which you are grateful. Then, go back through your journal in following weeks as a reminder of all the ways you are blessed.
Watch for Opportunities to Give
For many years, I’ve made it a priority to give our sanitation workers a monetary gift at Christmas. I also wave to them during the year as I walk the neighborhood. Often, we ignore those who provide services, but it doesn’t take much effort to note the name of a server in a restaurant and call them by name, or speak to and thank janitorial staff or grocery store employees you see on a regular basis.
Giving isn’t just about money. Expressing thanks, acknowledging those who are grieving, and asking others how you can pray for them lets them know you care. Your time, talents, and concern are among the greatest gifts you can give throughout the year.
Refrain from Engaging in Strife
While social media has benefits, it also has the ability to keep us stirred up. Sometimes online conversation lures us into engaging those with whom we don’t agree. And many times those we argue with are unknown to us.
Confrontation extends beyond social media. Sometimes the main area of strife is within our own families or group of friends. Many times, we could downplay confrontation by refraining from comments that inflame. It’s ok to let someone’s inflammatory comment slide. Often the person is trying to goad you into rebuttal. Maintain joy by making a conscious decision to refrain from engaging in confrontational conversations and limiting time spent on social media.
Maintain joy by making a conscious decision to refrain from engaging in confrontational conversations
Promote Year-Round Celebrations
Christmas often involves gathering with others for fun and food. Sometimes we feel celebrations have to be orchestrated to perfection, but gathering with family and friends can happen year round and doesn’t have to be associated with a holiday or involve elaborate planning.
Often we wait for others to initiate a get-together, but let the new year be one when you instigate spontaneous gatherings, like a covered dish dinner or just dessert. Your house doesn’t have to be pristine and you don’t have to try to find a time when everyone can attend. Gather with those who can come and enjoy celebrating the gift of family and friends.
Celebrate Small Victories
Many start the year with huge resolutions that fall off their radar by the end of January. Instead of creating impossible goals, decide to make small changes, like going to bed 30 minutes earlier, cutting down on certain foods or drinks, exercising, or spending time alone with God. Beginning if half the battle; maintaining is the other half. Pick one goal and commit to 30 days. Then, increase incrementally and celebrate small victories. With time, you will see benefits.
Discover Joy Boosters
Negativism is rampant in our world, which makes maintaining joy a challenge. Look for ways to enhance your joy. Read. Listen to music that inspires and elevates. Spend time outdoors or with people who are thankful and joyful. Take time to cultivate your spiritual growth.
Rather than facing the coming year with fear or anxiety, maintain forward motion by viewing the new year with expectancy and hope. Embrace joy and experience peace by trusting God for what lies ahead.
“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him.” Romans 15:13 NLT