Have you finished your holiday shopping yet? Are your halls all decked?
I haven’t — and mine are not. I also haven’t flipped over to the radio station playing non-stop Christmas music since it began a couple weeks ago, and I’ve only bought two presents.
Christmas craft tutorials seem to make me twitchy this year, and a conversation about finding a date for my favorite family gathering of the year left me in tears.
It seems I’ve lost my holiday spirit.
I know it’s the most wonderful time of the year. I know! But while I’m not quite up to Grinch status yet, I’m definitely not feeling holly or jolly about the upcoming festivities I normally look forward to each December.
The holidays can be hard. Sometimes our circumstances color how we handle special days and everyday days and all the days in between. But sometimes, for no reason at all, it might just be hard to find your holiday spirit. And when that happens, what do you do? Well, I’m still working through this, searching for a spark of holiday spirit myself. But here are a few things I’ll be trying this week.
Cut the clutter.
Don’t worry. I’m not suggesting you deep clean the house or alphabetize your spices. No need to start that craziness ’til January, am I right? But it’s possible that clearing some space in your life might open up room for Christmas — and, yes, for Christ.
I know for me, a messy dining room table (and, you all, it is almost ALWAYS a mess) makes it much harder for me to be productive. I see the mess and I get overwhelmed and I don’t know where to start with anything and, well, nothing gets done.
The same is true in just about every area of my life. If I have too much still-haven’t-dealt-with-it junk in my heart, I can’t find time to pray. And even if I do, I find that time empty and lacking any real connection with God.
So whether it’s physical clutter (Yes, FINE, it’s time for me to finally organize my basement!), calendar clutter (We RSVP’d to HOW MANY Christmas parties?!), or heart clutter, take a few minutes to cut it out. Clear a space for peace and joy — and to receive the Gift of this season.
Look at the world through a child’s eyes.
Whether you have children of your own or not, you were once a child yourself. So think back: what did you love doing at Christmas when you were a kid? Frosting cookies? (EATING cookies?) Sitting on Santa’s lap? Christmas caroling? Wrapping gifts in the comics section of the newspaper? Watching the cartoon Christmas specials?
Whatever it was, do it. Do it now — or as soon as you can. Don’t overanalyze it or mock it. Just travel back in time for a moment and let your inner child come out.
For me, this is watching the Claymation Christmas Special. The one with the California Raisins. We watch it every year at my parents’ house; it’s our “thing.” But this year, I’m going to borrow my brother’s copy of the strange, silly show and watch it early. It’s hard not to get into the holiday spirit when the jazzy camels made of clay are singing “We Three Kings.”
Reminisce about past holidays.
Remember that Christmas we forgot to turn the oven on? Or we got snowed in? Or we went to that ugly sweater party or played ten rounds of White Elephant/Yankee Swap? Or what about the Christmas karaoke? Or the time we forgot to look in our stockings?
While we all have a story of holiday disaster or dysfunction, we also probably each have at least one story that brings a smile to our face. Thinking back to those good ole’ days — or even just that great moment in the midst of some Christmas chaos — is sure to warm our hearts and turn the tide of holiday love.
Pick one thing.
Look, I’m not going to say, “Fake it until you make it.” That’s obviously, well, fake. But rather than avoiding all celebrations because we just don’t FEEL LIKE IT . . . what if we pick just one thing and give it a try? Maybe we don’t listen to Christmas music ’round the clock, but could we play one CD one time? It’s okay to skip a year of trimming the tree; but how about a tabletop evergreen or even a Christmas scented candle in the room?
Just pick one thing. I’m going to start with hanging some greenery above my dining room windows. (Well. After I de-clutter that table a bit . . .)
Remember where it all started.
The truth is that Christmas isn’t about the holiday hoopla anyway. The music and the gifts and the decorations are nice, sure. But the reason for the season? It’s Jesus. Just Jesus. And Just Jesus? IS ENOUGH. If celebrating in style isn’t your thing this year, that’s okay. If you’re feeling the pull of a quieter season, a more peaceful time of reflection — THAT’S OKAY.
Mary and Joseph didn’t have a Christmas tree, and the shepherds wouldn’t have known how to frost a candy cane-shaped cookie if the angels had spelled it out for them. Their focus was right where it was meant to be, right where ours is meant to be: on Jesus. The Messiah. The One who started it all, the One where it all started. And His Spirit is really the only one we need.