- Don’t do something. To an already-packed schedule, Christmas can feel a bit like “more bricks, less straw.” Cut out a few of the “have-to’s” that aren’t (could we do photo Christmas cards rather than hand-signed? Could I forego making frosted Christmas cookies for the reception?)—and allow a little more margin for a devotional, meditative state of mind rather than one sprinting to keep up. Think Martha versus Mary here.
- Listen. If you’re moved by music, spend a few dollars and a few extra minutes on iTunes for songs that will get worship rolling around in your head and your heart.
- Subtract. Pray that God will open your eyes to what entangles and distracts your heart from really soaking in the Christmas message this year—and that you’ll have the courage to cut it loose. For me, sometimes the disappointment and sadness of being away from home and the festivities replete in the Western world sometimes mean I keep Christmas at arm’s length, steeling myself. But I also know that when I’m in the developed world during Christmas, my schedule and all the trimmings of the season tend to clutter my mind and my heart from the one person who matters.
- Download an advent devotional, like this one from Desiring God.
- Hijack your traditions. Consider an advent calendar that—alongside the ubiquitous sugar—leads your family closer to Jesus. I like this printable one from Faith Gateway. We’ve also been gifted ornaments that clearly remind us of Jesus whenever we look at our tree, like these from Ever Thine Home. Younger kids may enjoy making Jesus a birthday cake and singing “Happy Birthday” on Christmas.
- Hone in. Pick one name of Jesus (“Prince of Peace”) or verse (“I am the Lord’s servant; may it be to me as you have said”) or character from the Christmas story that sticks out—or ask God to point out one. Meditate on that as you go through the season, and listen as God fleshes out its meaning.
- Add a slice of service. Choose one area for your family to give itself away this Christmas—one that pushes you beyond “sacrifices that cost nothing,” pressing you into worship that gives uncomfortably, extravagantly, and/or inconveniently in your expression of love for God.
- In what ways do you worship? Author Gary Thomas writes
of the various ways we worship as individuals: through nature, restoring justice, through our intellect, etc. Carve out time for the ways you worship, like a walk through the snow, a prayer time in the quiet of the Christmas tree lights, or shoveling a neighbor’s snow.
- Ask Him. You’ve heard the old warning: If the Devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy. This may seem like a “duh”—but consider a question like this one: God, I know how everyone else thinks I should spend my day today. How do you want me to spend it, to be faithful to you and love well? And Help me to know how my holiday can be about increased worship of You—and keep the main thing the main thing.