It’s coming. Christmas, I mean. It’s coming. For some of us – like me, who celebrate a week early or a week late with out-of-town friends and family – it’s already arrived. Here, then, is a list of Super-Important Things You Absolutely Must Do Before Or By Christmas.
- Contact those whom you love but will not see. Not with a generic “Hey Happy Holidays” Christmas card, but with a heartfelt text or email or call. Even if you can’t be with family or close friends, let them know they’re loved.
- Buy a package of thank-you cards if you don’t have them and carry them with you. I know, I know, we have the internet and we can send e-mail thanks. But cards are nice. And you won’t forget to send them if you have them right there.
- Schedule some Jesus. Make sure you have a candelight service or cantata or living nativity or something to get to around Christmas. Failing that, have your own private celebration – remember, it’s the spiritual, not the material, that should matter at this time of year.
- Drop what you can’t do. If it isn’t absolutely necessary and it’s not done yet – whatever “it” is – stop worrying about it and let it go. Given a choice between finishing yet another batch of cookies or hanging out with friends or family, choose the second.
- Don’t lose your prayer time. If you have people invading your home, or if you’re invading someone else’s home, don’t forget to make space for your prayer and study time. Find a way.
- Save what you don’t need. Don’t throw away extra food. Don’t toss gifts you don’t love. Don’t throw away your old winter coat for the new one you got. People have needs; you can meet them. Repurpose and donate where you can.
- Play your favorite carol. Play it until people get sick of it. Play it until you get sick of it. Christmas comes but once a year.
- Establish relationships. Christmas is an ideal time to make connections with people you don’t know. Thank your poor mailman for all those packages he keeps bringing to your door. Wish your apartment staff a Merry Christmas. Drop some cookies by for the neighbors.
- Forgive. Yes, I know your cousin said that thing. And yes, what your coworker did at the holiday party was insulting. Forgive it. Let it go. Don’t let slights, insults, or conflicts darken this time of year for you.
- Celebrate in the way that best suits you. If you’re an introvert and you want to sit alone with a cup of hot chocolate and listen to carols, do it. If you’re an extrovert and you want to go to that party, do it. If you’ve lost a loved one this year and you don’t feel much like having Christmas at all, spend the day as any other. Listen to yourself and to your own heart.
Above all, don’t forget that Christmas marks the beginning of The Story, and serves as the shocking, scandalous introduction to God’s redemptive plan for us all.