Why We Need Christmas

The day after Thanksgiving, our family got out our Christmas decorations, put up the tree, hung our stockings, and even set up lights in front of our house. It’s officially the Christmas season, and it couldn’t have come at a better time!

We were certainly not the first to dig out our Christmas tubs and boxes. This year, people were stringing lights and trimming their trees earlier than ever. 2020 has been a lump of coal, to say it politely, and across the board people have been long anticipating the holiday season. 

This yearning is not just for children excited to open presents on Christmas morning. It’s us, as adults. We need Christmas this year. 

Why is there more attention, focus and enthusiasm for Christmas than usual? Why does it seem we desperately need Christmas to come, the sooner the better?

Collectively, for almost all of us, this year has, well, been a year. It’s a year we’d like to escape, to sucker punch and kick to the curb. It’s been hard, and for some devastating. People have lost opportunities, lost jobs, lost loved ones, lost their sanity in quarantine, lost safety, lost elections, lost peace, lost joy. We’ve lost. With no end in sight, and no light at the end of the tunnel, we feel lost.

And so when the sparkling lights of the Christmas tree glow, and outdoor displays shine bright in the dark (at 5 p.m. – thanks to time change), we feel a flicker of hope that all is not lost.

Christmas is about remembering what was and believing in what could be again. 

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is putting up our Christmas tree. My husband puts the tree together, and then I string the lights and garland. Next, we decorate the tree with ribbons carefully saved from our holiday wedding. Finally, the kids hang all of our ornaments, spanning decades of memories. It’s certainly not a professional job, and not one you’d ever see in a store display, but it’s ours. 

Our Christmas tree holds so many years of special moments and stories, smiles and laughter. It reminds us of the joy and blessings God has given us.

For instance, my favorite ornament on our tree is a construction paper stocking, stitched with yarn by small fingers, and half of the sequins are now missing. On the back is my son’s name, proudly written by a little boy after working on this special project together. It’s trash to most, but one I will always keep and prominently display.

My favorite ornament

There are so many ornaments lovingly made in school classrooms by my children (and their thoughtful teachers), that capture moments and precious faces I don’t want to forget.

Precious faces and memories on the tree

Both my husband and I have ornaments commemorating our first Christmases from our parents, and others from our childhood. And we have special ornaments that we’ve picked out together for our tree.

Each year, when we have the opportunity, my husband and I pick out a special Nativity Christmas ornament.

Our Christmas tree reminds us what’s most important. It’s the One who has shaped our Christmas memories and who holds all our future Christmases.

People long for Christmas, because deep down, even if they don’t understand it, they ache for a Savior. They want someone to save the day – to change what the world has become.

We need peace in the midst of this pandemic. We need joy instead of the constant jockeying for position. We need faith to come against fear and fighting. We need hope to heal the hurting. 

We need Christmas. We need Christ.

Jesus is peace. Jesus is joy. Jesus is the reason for our faith, and the source of our hope.

Christmas not only reminds us of what’s most important, it gives us a glimpse of what could be and should be when we seek the Savior of the World. Only Jesus can restore what we’ve lost. 

He was the One who left the perfection of Heaven to step into our mess. He lived a life without corruption, selfishness and sin. And, because we couldn’t do it on our own, He gave His life to save ours. He gave us hope and life, and that resurrection is available to us, even today.

So, bring on the Christmas carols, mugs of hot chocolate, nativity scenes and candles flickering in the windows. Light up those obnoxious Christmas displays and cover couches with Christmas pillows and blankets. Watch A Charlie Brown Christmas and snuggle together with only the glow of the Christmas tree lights in the room. Christmas is here – and we have reason to celebrate! 

The Light of the World has come! Look for Him this Christmas.

Journey to the Manger: Wise Men and Gifts

The kids consider what they can give to Jesus this Christmas.

The kids consider what they can give to Jesus this Christmas.

We worshiped the King with the Wise Men today on our Journey to the Manger.

Wise Men Give Gifts

Wise Men Give Gifts

The Wise Men came to worship and honor the King God revealed to them in the stars. Before they set out to travel, they chose several gifts of significance, worthy of royalty. When they finally reached the humble place the child lived, the men from the east still fell to their knees in reverence and respect. They were in the presence of God Himself.

When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.

– Matthew 2:10-11

So much of our focus at Christmastime is on the presents. We stress over getting everyone the perfect gift, and then paying for it all. Children write up their Christmas lists, as if getting everything on them means it’s been a great holiday. The malls are packed, traffic is snarled, and we are exhausted.

The tradition of gift-giving that Christians draw from the example of the wise men is all about the worship and adoration of the Savior. Yet, we have made the heart of Christmas about us instead of Jesus.

Today, the kids and I spent time considering what we could give to Jesus. Inside a wrapped gift were objects that represented ways we could worship Jesus. For instance, a musical instrument symbolized worshiping God in song, and we sang “Jesus Loves Me” as a gift to God. A bedtime toy reminded us we could honor God by giving Him our dreams and future. Monopoly money showed we could give God our change to be used in ministry. We looked at the hands and feet of a doll to brainstorm how we could use our feet to go and hands to serve and help others. We read a book together because growing in our knowledge of God shows how much we value our relationship with Him.

God gave us what we could never deserve in 10,000 lifetimes: His One and Only Son. God’s love is immeasurable and His grace unsurpassed. Jesus is altogether worthy of our absolute worship and praise.

What can we personally give to honor Jesus this Christmas?

Click here to learn more about celebrating Advent with your family this Christmas, including access to a Scripture plan, free downloads and activity ideas. For more on Journey to the Manger, an advent experience from Focus on the Family, visit the Thriving Family website.