Merry Christmas everyone! This special day allows me to reflect on Jesus, his celebrated birth, and all that He means to me and my family. And the day itself has become even more fun since Rachel and I had kids, because we get to remember what it was like as a child, and see everything afresh from their eyes. Finally, we do love that the holiday brings family members together (although this year, that will be challenging for so many). As we grow older, we just don’t know if we’ll all be here next Christmas (for example, Rachel’s grandma is 91), and so we don’t take the time for granted at all.

But truly, for me it’s really about the anticipation. I look forward to Christmas Day very much, but it’s the approach to, rather than the arrival of, the day which has the most impact on me. We put our tree up in September just because I wanted something visible in my living room to remind me that Christmas is coming. To infuse our spirits with a new hope. To begin a chapter in a new story. To signify that better days and months and years are ahead, because Emmanuel (God is with us). To be sure, next year might be similarly rough or even worse than this year, but we all still need to believe for something great in our lives. I definitely need to believe; I can’t not believe that something great is ahead because well, then, what’s the point? Christmas is the best example of something great happening. And the birth of God’s son here on earth was a promise fulfilled, a reward for those who waited with expectancy, and the answer to so many questions.

I set Christmas far in front of me, and the knowledge of it getting nearer and nearer pulls me forward and carries me to it.  My spirit enjoys dwelling on it, and it reminds me that God is still in the business of doing miracles. My mind appreciates its significance, and how it reveals the beauty of God’s plan of redemption and newness. And my body actually starts to feel lighter.

And so I set Christmas far in front of me, and the knowledge of it getting nearer and nearer pulls me forward and carries me to it.  My spirit enjoys dwelling on it, and it reminds me that God is still in the business of doing miracles. My mind appreciates its significance, and how it reveals the beauty of God’s plan of redemption and newness. And my body actually starts to feel lighter. As we get closer to November and definitely in December, I am increasingly less tense and stressed. I have the same amount of responsibilities on my plate, but they just don’t seem to weigh me down as much. They just don’t seem to feel so serious. I know Rachel notices the difference. I sure do.

Christmas also brings me back to basics and helps me to keep first things first: faith, family, and friends. The season does this for so many others as well; it’s remarkable how much power and influence it has over us. Think about all of the people who don’t go to church all year except for during Christmas week.  Think about the Christmas morning celebrations that are planned and organized among families. Think about all of the Christmas cards and letters we get – as people take the time to connect and catch up and exchange well-wishes. And, of course, think about how we feel genuinely prompted to give not only to people we know and love, but even to those we don’t know at all (through charities, special Christmas offerings, donations, etc.).

This is why I love Christmas. We kept our tree up into February this past year just to drift off the vibes from the holiday season. If we do that this year as well, that means our tree will be up almost half the year! Feel free to judge us, but it helps me. It brings me joy. It keeps me in a good place, with my eyes looking beyond what I can see, my thoughts on more than just the mundane, and my heart in sync with His own.

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