Putting away Christmas

Every year it’s the same. After a big day of too much food and lots of presents, we wade through the torn wrapping paper and mutilated bows, gathering up our loot and putting it away. We examine the gifts again, trying things on, looking for the right spots to display them. Sometimes the presents are much-loved and will be used daily; other times, small stocking stuffers (or well-meaning gifts that simply missed the mark) may be shoved into drawers and baskets, not to be unearthed until months later, if and when you decide to deep clean your room. That’s one way to know you have more than you need: you can put away the gifts and completely forget about them.

As I was gathering up the debris left over from the big day, I realized that I don’t want to put away Christmas this year. Don’t get me wrong. I’m already tired of the tree and the garland and the wreaths. I’ll be happy to see those go, whenever I muster up the energy to pack them away. But all through December, as I put up the decorations and made lists and ran into yet another store, I tried so hard to keep the focus on the reason for the season. I enjoyed talking about Him, wishing people a Merry Christmas, sending cards mentioning the birth of our Saviour. We all do things out of the ordinary — we attend candlelight services, do nice things for people, and actually succeed in remembering what it’s all about. But what happens when Christmas is over? Do we take all that we discovered and thought and said and shove it into a closet? Or do we keep it out? Do we keep talking about Jesus, about the miracle of His birth? Do we continue to do charitable acts, reaching out to feed and clothe and help those in need? We celebrate Christmas as a season, but it’s a celebration that should last all year long. The gifts He has given are meant to be used daily, to be kept out for easy access. They’re meant to be celebrated and shared.

So I challenge you this year, as we pack up the ornaments and gift wrap and trees: let’s take stock of all He has given us, and let’s remember to use it. Enjoy it. Love it. Let’s greet people with smiles and laughter. Let’s find reasons to get together with friends and family. Let’s think about what it means that a baby, an amazing and one-of-a-kind child, came to live among us. Let’s think about what it means that He still lives, and that He loves, and that He calls us His own. Let’s think about Jesus — all 365 days of the year.

O come let us adore Him

It’s that time of year when Christmas carols are blaring over speakers everywhere you go. One line that sticks in my head every time is “O come let us adore Him.” It sounds so easy. It is so easy. So why don’t we do it? We don’t have to travel as the wise men did, with caravans of people and supplies for hundreds of miles, for months of our lives, to deliver a costly gift to the Messiah. We don’t have to beg to be allowed into His throne room, and we don’t have to follow a star to find His lowly manger. We don’t even have to move. Not a single inch. He — the Christ child, the sacrificial Lamb of God, the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace — He deigns to come to us. But He wants to be adored. He wants us to show Him how much it means to us that He dwells among us. So this year at Christmas, especially, let’s show Him. Let’s reach out in love to every person we encounter. Let’s offer gifts of ourselves, our time, our sacrifice, our thoughtfulness — to help others, not burden ourselves with more debt to buy people things they don’t really need. Let’s remember the One for whom the holiday is named, and let’s use His name — kindly and gently, not belligerently — wherever we go. Let’s make sure that, with every action, every conversation, every thought, and every gesture, we adore Him. Let’s make sure He sees how much we love Him. And let’s make sure others who are around us remember — because of us — that the holiday we celebrate is Christmas, and the One we adore is Jesus.