As I enter the holiday season, this is what I hope to do:
I RESOLVE, during a time when everyone’s rested and in a good mood, to prayerfully open a conversation about where, when, and how we’ll celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas. As much as possible, we’ll take everyone’s schedules and preferences into consideration, but I will remember that the primary goals of our holidays are that Christ is honored and our family is together. Whether we celebrate the weekend before Christmas, the week after, or by Skype at 2 a.m., I will surrender my hopes for a “perfect” family gathering and accept a realistic one.
I RESOLVE to sit down with my husband and determine what we can and should spend on Christmas this year. I will stick to this figure no matter what. This will involve deciding in advance who will receive gifts, who will receive cards, and who will receive a sincere Merry Christmas hug with no accompanying guilt. I will recognize that I do not honor the Christ of Christmas by foolishly and wantonly overspending.
I RESOLVE to thoughtfully ponder each loved one’s love language and use it as a guideline for gift giving. While love languages don’t solve the mystery of why some Christmas gifts evoke squeals of joy and others prompt a sigh or (worse yet) a grimace, they do help.
Instead of giving my quality-time-loving mother another collectable she has to find a spot for and dust into perpetuity, I’m going to give her a gift certificate for a manicure and a lunch date. Instead of giving my acts-of-service-loving friend a book, I’m going to give her a homemade meal, frozen and ready to reheat. As often as I can, I will strive to put careful thought and purpose into each loved one’s gift. I encourage you to read Mary Hunt's wonderful blog post on this called "The Gentle Art of Gift-Giving."
I RESOLVE to honor and acknowledge the empty chairs around our holiday table without letting their presence steal the joy from the day. I will treasure the memories of past gatherings without comparing them to the ones unfolding in front of me. I will think of special ways to pay tribute to our missing loved ones, but not in a somber, morose way. Instead, we will give thanks for the celebrations we shared, continue the traditions that bear their fingerprints, and perhaps even start a new tradition they would have approved of.
I RESOLVE not to allow other’s poor manners, thoughtless actions, or ungrateful attitudes to suck the joy out of my celebration. As much as it lies within me, I will seek to spread holiday cheer, but I acknowledge I can’t make others happy, nor am I responsible for their happiness.
I RESOLVE to take time to sit at Jesus’ feet every day. I want to reread the Christmas story in all four gospels (yes, there’s an account in the first chapter of John as well). I also want to read an advent devotional. If you have a favorite one, I’d love to hear about it.
Some of my family’s favorite Advent devotional stories for children are those by Arnold Ytreeide. Jotham’s Journey is the first book we read and is still my favorite. The stories are written with elementary/middle school children in mind, but teens and adults will hang on every word and eagerly look forward to each day’s brief chapter. I can’t wait ‘til my granddaughters are old enough so I can read them again.
These are my resolutions for the 2015 holiday season. I’m sure you can think of a few of your own. You may find it helpful, as I did, to write them down. You may prefer to keep them to yourself or share them with family and friends.
As you approach the holiday season, I encourage you to enter prayerfully, reverently, and intentionally. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all the other details will fall into place. Purpose to model Christ, who came not to be served, but to serve. In this way, you will honor your friends, your family, and most of all, your Savior.
May you enjoy a blessed and holy holiday season.