This morning before leaving for work, my husband kissed me and said, “Babe, try to just relax today”. His recognition of my recent relentless efforts to ensure everything went smoothly for Christmas made them all the more worth it, but also reminded me that my favorite holiday was over.
I refilled the lovely coffee cup, covered in cardinals and pinecones, a cherished gift from my youngest and opened the festive Ziploc bag filled with mint chocolate chip cookies baked days ago. Even as I took one out, I lamented the number I have eaten this season.
Sitting in my chair, coffee cup in hand, I looked at our Christmas tree, the floor beneath it now bare, except for one stray shiny ornament and a lone undelivered present. Moments later, I saw a snapchat notification from my youngest and opened a picture of her Christmas tree with the caption, “I don’t want Christmas to be over”.
Since I was entering my time of devotion and prayer, this topic was something I reflected on during my quiet time.
Why do I dread the arrival of December 26th? To answer that question, I must first ask myself why I love the days preceding it. That’s easy, right? The month of December is filled with hope, with expectations, the joy of giving, and the arrival of friends and family for long overdue visits. People take days off and spend them at home, we search for that perfect gift for those we love and for the most part people seem more cheerful. There are more commercials and movies crafted to observe the joy of the season and it truly does seem that more love abounds or at least a better sense of family and fellowship.
As we celebrate the Christmas season, we reflect more on that life changing gift of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We honor the greatest love ever known and we are constantly reminded of it. We are surrounded by Christmas carols, and many of them honor the Holy One and the virgin birth. We see joy manifested in human form in the faces of our children and grandchildren. We see that giving a gift means we sacrifice something to give to another. Often, but sadly not often enough, we see forgiveness and healing in relationships.
So, if all of the above is what I love, why do I dread what I perceive in my mind to be the “end” of this glorious season?
It isn’t over.
Yes, the Christmas season is over; the last carol has been sung, the last sugar cookie decorated like a candy cane for a while, the gifts are all open, the decorations are already starting to sag and look out of place and some of our families are already homeward bound.
The seasons will change, as they should as new seasons bring new growth. But, the reason for the season never changes and that reason always has been and always will be Jesus! He truly is the Gift that keeps on giving! We are abundantly blessed and we can continue to be a blessing all year long. We can keep the spirit of Christmas strong and alive and well by loving hard all year long, by finding the perfect gifts to bless the poor, lonely and hurting. We can freely and diligently give the gift of prayer. We can decorate lives with compassion, empathy and laughter. We can put God first, family second and everything else below that. We can fellowship more often and be generous in gifting our time to those we love and we can certainly choose to allow a fresh wind of forgiveness to blow through our hearts when needed.
All of this should be obvious of course, but sometimes we need to take the time to allow God to remind of us of old truths and I for one, am glad I did that this morning. Today is a brand new day, filled with life, breath and salvation and I intend to enjoy every minute of it!