Have you ever noticed that some people just seem to exude Christmas Spirit? Do they do this naturally or is it some secret? Let’s face it; none of us wants to be around a Christmas Scrooge robbing the season of joy. Yet, if we are real honest about how the season can affect us, it’s real easy to slide into a Scrooge mentality. So how do we restore the Christmas Spirit in our hearts?
Too busy for Christmas
Consider the “busyness” that Christmas generally entails. There is shopping, planning, wrapping, coordinating, inviting, participating, cooking, cleaning, driving, ordering, scheduling and celebrating. The list goes on.
Each of these items represents activities or chores — ‘extra-ordinary’ behaviors usually imposed on our already overloaded, busy lives. And unless you are a super organized individual, this time of year can be completely swallowed by the sheer amount of work that goes into just trying to “pull Christmas off.”
Here is the inevitable problem. If the plate of your life is already full, then in order to pull Christmas off something has to give. Sadly, sometimes what “gives” is the whole point of Christmas itself: the celebration of the embodiment of God as a human baby. When we let this happen to ourselves, I’m convinced, we lose the joy of Christmas.
Restoring your Christmas spirit
So how do we restore the spirit of Christmas. Here are four suggestions:
1.Watch what you say about Christmas
There is a reason why Charles Dickens’ character Scrooge is so easy to despise — he is constantly negative.
When I consistently speak negatively about the cultural Christmas season, the only outcome seems to be my own misery. Nothing changes in the culture. I have accomplished nothing. When I realized that criticism was only making me and my family miserable, I began to rethink my entire approach to Christmas. Now I say, “I love Christmas. This slight change made all the difference.
- Enjoy our culture’s Christmas expressions
We need to remember that “good ole St. Nick” originated from Christianity. Sometimes Christians become so antagonistic towards the consumerism accompanying Christmas that we make ourselves miserable. Keep in mind that nobody wants to be around a miserable person.
Yes, there are concerns to be aware of – an over-emphasis on the myth of Santa and an under-emphasis on the birth of Jesus. Yet, realize that none of what we experience today would happen if it had not been for Jesus’ original birth. Without that none of the holiday splendor we experience today would even be a reality.
Remember, Christmas is a unique opportunity our culture gives us each and every year to repeat the story of Jesus over and over again.
- Schedule time for yourself
Sometimes we become so focused on others that we forget to take care of ourselves. The Psalmist reminds us to “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10a). Whenever I find myself overextended in my schedule, I always experience a spiritual decline. This is particularly dangerous during the Christmas season.
Think about the list of activities above and consider how draining they can be. If you are completely exhausted after Christmas, then you might need to schedule some time for yourself. Remember, you can’t enjoy Christmas with a fatigued mind and soul. Seek ways to restore your soul, so you can enjoy others.
- Schedule quality time with the people you love to be around
Who do you love to be around? Are there particular people in your life that bring you joy? Then schedule intentional time with these people. Even though we may have obligatory family relationships that need to be honored, why not spend the season with those who will restore you? Think about the people in your life that inspire you, encourage you and lift you up. Identify who they are and carve out time to celebrate Christmas with them! You will be glad you did!
The Rev. Dr. Jonathan G. Smith is the founding dean of Knox Online and is now the Senior Rector of Redeemer Anglican Church in Winter Park, FL. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.