Christmas 2016 is now only a set of memories.
- The first preschool performance of our granddaughter, Elena. Picture a stageful of two-to-four-year olds singing off-key with cherubic enthusiasm. Delightful.
- Christmas Eve dinner with family in a lovely restaurant, and then an outstanding church concert afterwards.
- A gathering of eight around the Christmas tree to open presents—seven family members and one adopted uncle (a friend of our son’s who could not get home for the weekend).
Now it’s time to finish up or freeze all the leftovers from holiday meals. Soon we’ll have to bring up the boxes from the basement and undecorate (the most deplorable of chores) while listening to Christmas carols one last time.
And as folks around the world put away the ornaments, wreaths, and fairy lights, many will put away their cheerfulness and good will. There will be fewer smiles and happy greetings, fewer kindnesses and generous gestures.
I don’t want to be one of those folks, melancholy as my spirit might be. I need a new attitude, as described by Charles Allen and Charles Wallis:
“Christmas need not be limited to only a day.
Christmas can become, as it was meant to be,
an attitude toward life that will continue
during all of the days that follow.”
–from Christmas, p. 51.
My new attitude could take inspiration from the shepherds who, after visiting the stable, returned to their flock glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen (Luke 2:20).
Surely their glorifying and praising was not just a temporary state. Of course, the intense euphoria lessened with time. It would be impossible to live with that level of excitement long-term. Who could eat or sleep?
But I can picture them, sitting around their campfire year after year, frequently reminiscing about that night. I can see their soft smiles, recalling how terrible fright had turned to gleeful joy. And I see the shaking of their heads in wonder, remembering that they were among the first to look into the face of the long-awaited Messiah. What an incredulous privilege. That kind of elation never grows old.
I have a feeling those shepherds were never the same after that night. Their families—even the village of Bethlehem—were impacted by the effervescent joy that overflowed from their lives.
After all, they had seen the Lord.
(Gerard von Honthorst painting, 1622)
I, too, have encountered him in my spirit. But when post-Christmas melancholy comes calling, my thoughts gravitate toward disappointment that the beauty, excitement, and wonder of the season is over.
I need to renew my mind by following the shepherds’ example:
- Glorify God—for all his marvelous attributes
- Praise God—for all I have heard from him and seen him do
- Spread the word about Jesus—my merciful Savior and gracious Lord
As I pack up all the decorations, may my thoughts center on the joy Jesus provides—not just for the Christmas season but always. May I look forward with anticipation to the experiences God has planned for me and the growth he’ll achieve in me during the new year—even as I fondly look backward on the sweet memories of Christmas past.
May I begin to develop a Christmas attitude that will last the whole year through.
To that end, I’ve chosen several Christmas cards to tuck here and there around the house—as reminders to keep glorifying, praising, and spreading the word:
No need to wait until next year for Christmas joy after all.
P.S. For 2017, beginning next Thursday, January 5, I’ll be posting just once a week in order to allow time for other projects and for assisting our son and daughter-in-law when Baby Girl #2 arrives (sometime mid-January). I do hope you’ll still return each Thursday for a new post.