I’ve always been a strict “no Christmas until after Thanksgiving” kind of person. Maybe it’s because Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, or because I love the fall and don’t want to rush it, but I’ve just never wanted Christmas to creep into November. This year, however, is different.
It’s been a hard few months, and I’ve found myself turning on Christmas music on the days when I just needed a little extra cheer. I’ve wandered into the Christmas sections of stores (which went up right after Halloween…) and even picked up a few things to get a head start on decorating.
I’ve found myself craving Christmas.
“I don’t want to wait to celebrate the Joy to the world,” Stephanie Bryant, (in)courage writer, said in her recent article “Permission to Celebrate Christmas Early This Year.” I don’t want to wait this year either. It feels like our weary world needs a reason to rejoice. We need a thrill of hope. We need to be reminded that our soul only finds its worth when Jesus appears. We need to daily celebrate that holy night that Christ was born, because that night changes everything for us today.
“I’m not going to hold Christmas back to its spot on the calendar post-Thanksgiving,” Bryant writes. “Instead, I’m flinging the door open wide to our hearts and home for Christ and His coming. There will be room here. Christmas isn’t a 25-day countdown, but an adventure in celebrating that gives this divine moment the time and attention it deserves.”
Every year, I look forward to the Advent season that paves the way to Christmas. It always feels like I need to slow down this time of year and really reflect on the gift that Jesus coming to earth is for me as a believer, and intentionally moving through Advent helps me do that. While as a kid, it was fun to break open a new square on the calendar every day to get to the treat inside, I now find that Advent really is an adventure in celebrating Christ daily and giving him my time and attention.
This year, we’ve created a four-week guide that will help you reflect on peace throughout the Advent season-- you can download it here! I’ve already cut out all 28 squares and plan to string them across my mantle as a daily reminder to focus my heart, mind, and soul on Jesus.
While I’m still trying to intentionally practice gratitude every day (which feels especially relevant as Thanksgiving nears), I’m also daily celebrating the divine moments as Christmas draws close.
“I’m extending the time I have to refocus on that Holy Night and giving thanks right in middle for all the goodness God is and brings to my life,” Bryant says. “Grace to savor as long as I need to. I want to encourage you to not dread this advent season but enjoy the beautiful adventure leading to THE miraculous day. Whether that’s starting in November or December.”
The holidays can often rush by in a hurry, and we can easily get distracted by all of the hustle and bustle, but I want to better carve out time to spend celebrating my Savior in this season.
I want to read the verses in Scripture that tell of Christ’s coming and then tell of the night of his birth. I want to celebrate Advent meaningfully, using this guide every day to focus on the peace Jesus brings. I want to be present in this season of waiting for Christmas-- “If Christmas is for the joy,” Sarah Bessey says, “then Advent is for the longing. I want to pray through this season well (these 12 Advent Prayers are going to be my starting point!) and take time to listen for the Lord to speak to me as well.
This year, I’m not waiting to celebrate the true Joy of our world. I’m not waiting to think about that holy night when Christ was born-- I’m going to daily enjoy this glorious season both of gratitude and celebration, starting now.
How do you celebrate the Advent season? What helps you prepare for Christmas in this busy time of year?
Photo credit: Unsplash
Publication date: November 17, 2016
Rachel Dawson is the editor of BibleStudyTools.com