Make Christmas all year around

By Riverine Herald

ON MONDAY of this week I started taking down all the Christmas decorations and lights.

I struggled with this as I love Christmas and the fun of putting the decorations up.

The anticipation of Christmas day is now just a memory.

The presents have been unwrapped; the cards are read and put away, the lights are turned off, the Nativity scenes, the wreath, the tree and the tinsel have gone into storage, the season of joy has come to an abrupt end.

The house looks a little drab now the sparkles and bright colours are gone – there is a sadness that wants to sneak in and unravel the experience.

But wait.

It’s too easy to ‘pack and label’ our Christmas joy and goodwill, and put them away until next Christmas.

It does not need to be like this.

And here’s why.

First, the ‘label’ is wrong.

The trappings of Christmas are not Christmas, but only symbols of it.

We don’t celebrate a decorated tree; we don’t anticipate plum pudding or the lighted houses. Yes, we do enjoy them, and they add to the experience, but we shouldn’t ‘label’ these signature signs of Christmas incorrectly – nor make Christmas all about them.

Christmas is about the birth of a saviour and the joy that brings to all people.

Worship and the re-telling of the important stories of our faith, are joyful components of Christmas.

The church celebrates weekly, not annually.

The Christ in Christmas promises to be with us always.

Next we can continue to feast – we don’t just get together at Christmas, with family and friends, we can do that all year round.

A shared meal is always a celebration.

Most have three meals a day.

Re-label dinner and call it a feast.

Invite a friend; talk, laugh and celebrate, don’t pack away the joy of sharing a meal.

So extend your Christmas celebrations for 12 months during which we don’t pack and put away the joy and goodwill we search for.

Keep joy, keep goodwill.

The most spirited part of the brightest Christmas T-shirt is the bright smile just a few inches above the collar.

In fact, that smile may be one of the best decorations on display throughout the season.

You can pack that T-shirt away for another year, but your smile is in style all year long.

It is joy you long for, don’t pack it away.

Remember that Jesus’ birth is not something that happened “to us” a long time ago, but is something that happens “in us” – and always.

Continue the celebration.

Let the joy of the saviour shine from within all year long.

The last two verses of the poem Don’t Put Jesus Away by Anita Anderson say:

As you take down the nativity,

And pack each piece so carefully,

That little baby in the hay,

Is the one that came on Christmas day.

He’s Jesus Christ, God’s only son,

Who came for each and every one.

We need Him with us day by day,

So please, do not put Him away.

Sonia Edwards

Salvation Army