What brings you joy at Christmas? Is it time with family, baking, singing, volunteering your time and talents? Christmas is a time for celebration, rejoicing, and counting blessings, but it’s also a time to brighten the lives of others, and give as your heart prompts.
Here are a few of my favorite things at Christmas:
A large part of the joy of Christmas for me is participating in the music programs at church. This year, the music was challenging, and my decision to sing in an additional program added stress to my schedule. At one point, I thought of dropping out, but I’m so thankful I didn’t. Singing brings me great joy, especially singing the story of the true meaning of Christmas.
While I’m not a big fan of extravagant, multi-faceted yard displays of everything from snowmen, elves, and Santas to nativity scenes, I do enjoy the lights of Christmas. Simple candles in the windows, sparkling white lights, the glow of candlelight, and starlight in a blue-black sky, touch my heart with the joy of Christmas.
Sometimes it feels like my life is filled with hurry-up-got-to-be-here-next with no time to slow down, reflect, enjoy, and rest. Christmas Day and the days following allow the unscheduled time I crave. The schedule-less days bring joy and allow time to think about the blessings of the year and focus on forward motion for the year ahead.
The schedule-less days bring joy and allow time to think about the blessings of the year and focus on forward motion for the year ahead.
The Wonder of Children
This year, the excitement of my grandchildren has brought me great joy. I loved watching them decorate gingerbread houses, talk to Santa, listen to and sing Christmas music, and bubble with the joy and excitement of the season. I am flooded with memories of my own childhood as I watch them.
My childhood remembrances of Christmas are filled with joy and nostalgic longing. The Neely Christmas Party was always a highlight, filled with noise, music, presents, food, and fellowship with beloved uncles, aunts, and cousins.
Christmas Day with the Scruggs family was more sedate, but equally filled with love, laughter, presents, lounging, football on TV, and abundant food. I miss those days, and the quiet, fireside Christmas morning with my parents.
This year especially, I have missed my childhood home, decorated for Christmas.
Our family celebrates on Christmas Eve. I love the merriment, the bustle, the music, the laughter, and my precious ones all around me. I enjoy watching everyone open their presents and seeing their reactions. I think of loved ones absent and the blessing of those present. I remember and add new memories.
The Celebration of Jesus’ Birth
Our family has a tradition of celebrating Jesus before we see or open presents. We sing carols, read the story of Jesus’ birth from Luke 2, and celebrate with a birthday cake for Jesus. We sing happy birthday just as we would for family members. It’s important to me to keep the focus where it belongs, on Jesus.
The Gift of Redemption
Jesus came to a dark world, filled with oppression, fear, poverty, and drudgery. His birth was only observed by a few, yet it was the fulfillment of prophecy and promise.
Do you know someone for whom Christmas is just another day? Do you know those who are lonely and for whom there is no joy at Christmas? This Christmas, are you willing to reach out, to invite, to show kindness?
God reached down to us, giving his only son to redeem us, Emmanuel, God with us. The gift of Jesus is the greatest gift imaginable. May you, and all those you love, understand afresh the depth of God’s love, and rejoice that it affords the gift of redemption to all who believe.
“Hope of all hopes, dream of our dreams,
a child is born, sweet-breathed; a son is given to us: a living gift.
And even now, with tiny features and dewy hair, He is great.
The power of leadership, and the weight of authority, will rest on His shoulders.
His name? His name we’ll know in many ways—
He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Dear Father everlasting, ever-present never-failing,
Master of Wholeness, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6 VOICE).
Candy Arrington is a writer, blogger, speaker, and freelance editor. She often writes on tough topics with a focus on moving through, and beyond, difficult life circumstances. Candy has written hundreds of articles, stories, and devotionals published by numerous outlets including: Inspiration.org, Arisedaily.com, CBN.com, Healthgrades.com, Care.com, Focus on the Family, NextAvenue.org, CountryLiving.com, and Writer’s Digest. Candy’s books include Life on Pause: Learning to Wait Well (Bold Vision Books), When Your Aging Parent Needs Care (Harvest House), and AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B&H Publishing Group).
To receive Candy’s blog, Forward Motion, via email, go to https://candyarrington.com/blog/ and scroll to the bottom of the page to sign up.