Over the last few years, I have noticed that my Christmas Spirit (what I define as excitement, joy, and anticipation around the holiday season) ebbs and flows in the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. It seems to be at its height around Thanksgiving and then dwindles as we get closer to Christmas. Maybe this seems counterintuitive, but I have a theory—a lot of the Christmas Spirit for me is wrapped up in the anticipation and mystery—the further it is away from my reality, the greater the anticipation and mystery. Then, as it gets closer, and becomes more like reality, like day-to-day, interspersed with my mundane daily chores, the less magical it feels. Okay, but the thing is, I would like to enjoy Christmas even when it’s close and on the actual day—not just when it’s a snow-globe-blur in the month-away future.
So, to that end, there is a list of ideas to get yourself back in “the spirit” if and when you “fall” out.
- Spend some time in worship—maybe some extra time in worship or at least some extra-special time in worship. One Christmas years ago, I heard the story of the Birth of Jesus told through the lens of worship. All of these people—kings, shepherds, wise men, and so on, traveled on an exhausting journey, following a star as their only road map because their hearts were longing to worship. Christmas is about worship. We do not have to travel on a harrowing journey and worry we’re not following the right directions. We have knowledge of Jesus and we can worship him whenever we choose. Sing your favorite Christmas hymns and carols and think about the meaning of the words. Light a candle as a reminder of the star, and also as part of a prayer that you can be light to someone who needs it today.
- Rejoice and give thanks. Why so much joy a Christmas? Because the birth of the Savior means we are a saved! It’s obvious right, but this may be something you have heard so much that it’s lost its meaning. Don’t let that happen. Reflect on what you have been saved from and all that you are grateful for.
- Give. I heard it said once that we are most like God when we are giving. Doesn’t that inspire you to want to give? Maybe someone needs you to bless them with a Christmas present wrapped in shiny paper, or maybe someone needs the gift of your time, your service or your listening ear. Bake some cookies and share with a neighbor. Go to all of the local Christmas programs and clap and praise with enthusiasm. Maybe you could give your thanks—write some notes of appreciation to people who really made a difference in your life in the last year.
- Reflect. I love the verse in Luke 2:19: “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” What do you need to treasure and ponder in your heart this season? What do you want to remember? What’s on your mind? What are you noticing? Do you feel pulled in a certain direction for the upcoming New Year? Is there a relationship that needs your attention? A special memory you want to write down all of the details of so you remember it clearly? Take time to reflect, treasure and ponder. For me, this means writing in my journal, but quiet time is fine, too.
- Take Action! Reflection is amazing, but don’t overdo it. If you are feeling listless, maybe it’s time to get busy with some chores or projects. Do your mundane chores and get them out of the way. Plan your menus for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Get the recipes ready that you’ll need. Think about how you’ll set the table. Are there any last-minute surprises you want to plan? Are there Christmas movies you want the family to watch? Time to make a plan and get to work. In all of these tasks—whether it’s laundry or something more inspiring, play the Christmas music, put on a Hallmark movie, eat a sugar cookie reindeer, and drink your coffee in a Santa mug. Plan a night to go look at the lights and jingle some sleigh bells.
- Love the ones you’re with. No matter who you are with on the days leading up to Christmas and Christmas Day, make an effort to treat them with special kindness. Keep in that attitude of thanksgiving and treat your family or your co-workers or friends like you recognize them as blessings specially placed in your life. Be good to them.
- Don’t fear the “Letdown.” I think sometimes, after all of the anticipation and build-up, it is hard to face Christmas’s nearness and the actual day because of the emotional letdown, or even the fear of an emotional letdown. The good news is that every month and every season offers its own gifts and joys. It may be helpful to plan something to look forward to after Christmas—a movie date with a friend, an afternoon to browse the sales or putter around a bookstore. Maybe you want to go ice skating or try another winter activity. Put it on the calendar for January. There. Now, go put on something red or green and enjoy the day in front of you.