I think probably Christmas and New Year’s are the most anticipated of all the holidays. Not that the others are unimportant, but these provide special opportunities for family time, warm memories, and especially good cheer. Please allow me to offer a few suggestions about making the very most of your special holiday time this year:
1. Cherish family time together. The Christmas season especially brings back wonderful childhood memories. As a child, I could not wait for Christmas because of the presents. Then, as a college student, I looked forward to Christmas break because of the time at home with my family. As a young father, I looked forward to the excitement of our children opening their presents. Now, I look forward to spending time and reminiscing with my family.
It is challenging to keep families close these days. I admire those who can successfully do it. Since the Eisenhower Interstate Highway system, our nation has become increasingly mobile—and distant. It is not unheard of for children to grow up and move all over the country. Christmas cards bring a warm smile and fond memories. Family visits carry us through the coldest days of winter. Don’t forget to tell your aging parents how much you love and appreciate them. Show your family how much you care, and enjoy their company at a time when they are free from the stresses of work and other daily chores.
2. Don’t get too stressed about the presents. Materialism can drain the joy out of the holidays if we let it. I know, I know, we have to get something for every grandchild. Just remember, the best present you can give is your time. This Christmas, make it a point to share a special Christmas memory with each grandchild. They may remember that long after you are gone, and long after that material present has been forgotten.
3. Offer a prayer for our nurses, doctors, EMTs and other emergency services providers, and police officers who are working Christmas Day. Like many nurses, Marvina will be working a 12-hour shift this Christmas Day. Like some of you, she works every other Christmas and every other New Year’s Day. Sometimes we will have our “Christmas” on some other day. The important thing is not which day, but when can we be together. I remember as a child anxiously waiting for my dad to get home from shift work so that we could begin to open our presents. Now, I pray for our military who make it possible for us to spend time with our families in peace.
4. Save some of those Christmas cards to read again in a month or so. And when you send a Christmas card, be sure to write a line or two of special thoughts from the heart. Sometimes these lines mean more than all the rest of the beautiful card.
5. Turn off the news about the election controversy and the virus, and watch a good Christmas movie together. I still remember my grandmother in her 90’s, tearing up and sobbing out loud at one scene of the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol. I hope you are still touched by this movie, and I hope I can still be touched by it when I am grandma’s age.
6. Remember our Lord during the holidays. Don’t stay home from worship service just because it is a holiday. Your children will always remember that you put the Lord and his church first (Mt. 6:33). Rather than “keeping Christ in Christmas” I would recommend that we keep Christ in every day of our lives. Christmas as a religious holiday is scripturally unauthorized, but Christmas as special family time is a godsend.
7. Pause to reflect and resolve. These holidays come at the end of the old year and the beginning of the new. It is the perfect time to take stock of where we have been, and where we are going. I like to preach a sermon around this time which helps us do this, so “stay tuned” for that. But meanwhile, take a few moments to reflect back over the year now drawing to a close. It has been a challenging year, hasn’t it? Can we learn some lessons? Can we deepen our faith? Can we resolve to do better in the coming year? Many New Year’s resolutions are simply forgotten, but some of them can be life-changers.
My personal wish and prayer for each of you is that these holidays will be your best ever. Stay safe, warm, and blessed!
-by Robert C. Veil, Jr.