Christmas definitely makes for a wonderful time of the year, and quite honestly, the most wonderful. Christians gather at church, around decorated trees, and at the dinner table to sing, talk, pray, laugh, and so much more. We do so joyfully and in peace. Though, believers aren’t the only ones reveling in the peace and sharing in the joy. Atheists, agnostics, and just about everybody else participate in the holiday, not in celebration of Christ, but in an effort to show appreciation and service to their loved ones. If there’s a holiday where everyone is ostensibly united on one front, that holiday would be Christmas.
Ornaments, cookies, smiles, milk, mistletoes, and holiday movies. There’s something for everyone, and not many people are going to turn down festively wrapped gifts, especially not the kids.
But now that Christmas is over, how should we treat people?
Oftentimes, we forfeit the “holiday spirit” after the holiday has passed. Relatives we haven’t seen in a while once again become just that. Making sure we visit people becomes less of a concern. And we stop thinking so much about what we can do for others.
What if we decided that the holiday treatment we restrict to a season would become year-round? What would our communities, families, and lives look like then?
The Year-Round Holiday Treatment
Scripture gives us a myriad of ways to live both in honor of God and one another. Everyone, except for Grinch, strives to embody these behaviors during the holiday season. Then afterward, as the year goes on, a lot of us start to resemble the Grinch more and more. Scripture’s admonishment is not intended for just the holiday season. Though we, as Christians, know this in theory, our actions sometimes suggest otherwise.
The way we behave on the Christmas holiday is the same way we should strive to behave every day of the year. Living in service to God and one another should forever be chief concerns, especially considering Jesus identified both as the first and second greatest commandments.
“He said to him, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.’” (Matthew 22:37-40)
Here are some things we do well during the holiday that we should strive to do throughout the year.
Gratitude does not come naturally to most people, but the phrase “thank you” becomes commonplace on Christmas. People find themselves in the mood to thank God, their parents, Santa, and so many others. As smiles extend across faces, people feel a sense of warmth and appreciation for what they’ve been given.
What if we were grateful all year?
Imagine expressing to your spouse or parents or children that you were grateful for them, not just during Christmas, or some other holiday, but on a random Friday night. Then again, one quiet Tuesday morning. The outcome would result in something like how people feel during Christmastime, but far more often. People wouldn’t expect to feel loved during just one time of the year, making that love much more believable and much more tangible.
Spend Quality Time
Most people are guilty of letting at least some relationships fall by the wayside, familial or otherwise. When December strolls around, suddenly investing into those relationships doesn’t seem as arduous. We call more people than we normally would and make more time to schedule visits. No one denies that investing into relationships takes time, time that we can’t put in every week. However, finding time for that uncle or cousin you never see could happen more often even if we just visited once earlier in the year, or made a call to say hello.
Waiting until the holidays to see people suggests that we expect to see them. However, our days on this Earth are not guaranteed. Not today, or tomorrow, and not next Christmas.
Beyond just spending quality time together, one way to build relationships is to break bread. We eat plenty together during Thanksgiving and then again at Christmas. Imagine sharing more meals with family, friends, or acquaintances on a weekly or even monthly basis. How many relationships would benefit? And instead of figuring out how to connect with a bunch of different people individually, a shared meal offers a chance for many people to connect at once.
We learn a lot from one another over the dinner table. Some good, some bad, some downright funny.
We give a lot more gifts than normal on Christmas. Even the people who aren’t into gifts participate. And the range of gifts we offer vary in size, cost, and purpose. Now, outside of Christmas people don’t usually wrap gifts, but that doesn’t mean gifts can’t be given or hidden in places to be found.
Gifts do not have to be restricted to any holiday. Instead, we can choose to give as a way of showing someone that they’re on our mind, that we love them, or simply because we saw something in the store that we knew they needed. Giving gifts is one definite way to show love, and that’s why Christmas isn’t the only time to do that.
Ask How You Can Serve
For those of us less into the gift-giving aspect of the holiday, one thing we can do and do well is asking people how we can serve. We can ask our spouses, children, other relatives, friends, anyone, how best to serve them. If we already have an idea of what they need, then offer just that.
Sometimes we notice an elderly neighbor who needs their grass cut. Offer to help. Maybe there’s someone who struggles with loneliness. Offer to spend time with them, or do something else that’s sure to put a smile on their face.
By asking how to serve, we let someone know that they are not alone, that we care, and that we are invested in their wellbeing. That’s certainly the spirit we embody during Christmastime and is one we should strive to always bear.
Whatever changes you hope to make in the new year, start making the shift today, including carrying that holiday spirit around day to day, week to week. Christmastime is a fun time, a joyful time, and incredibly peaceful. What if our communities experienced that more often? Imagine what our families would look like, our marriages, our friendships, our workplaces.
God has given us the example of how we are to live. He’s given us His Son, His Word, His Spirit. What we do with these resources rests on us, but what we should do is as clear as the winter snow.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Nastco
Aaron D'Anthony Brown is a freelance writer, hip-hop dance teacher, and visual artist, living in Virginia. He currently contributes work to iBelieve, Crosswalk, and supports various clients through the platform Upwork. He's an outside-the-box thinker with a penchant for challenging the status quo. Check out his short story “Serenity.”