“I love the way our house looks at Christmas,” one of my boys told me as we were setting the decorations up.  I wholeheartedly agree.  I think my home does look and feel more inviting this time of year.  I look forward to it, and I know my family does too.  We love the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the season.  Neighborhoods feel more warm and friendly with their decorations and lights up. People seem more cheerful and generous. 

And one of the things that I may love the most is how we acknowledge that it’s a time of year to actually slow down and savor moments.  I enjoy slowing down, but it seems that it rarely happens.  Between pastoring with my husband and raising our four boys, life is fast paced most of the time.  But at Christmas…….

 The last couple of years, we have made adjustments so that we can create margin during this season.  Margin to sit and watch movies and eat popcorn and bake cookies.  Margin to have conversations and play games together.  We say no to some other busy activities  (that would be probably be fun as well) so that we can yes to family time.

 Yet, just as Christmas always comes, it always goes as well.  We gear up for this month of celebrations, some earlier than others, sidestepping other holidays even.  More and more I see posts of friends pulling out their Christmas trees in October!  There is just something about the season that we all long for.  And as the Christmas season comes to a close, I can find myself singing the blues.  Anyone else?  I don’t want it to be over already, and yet I know that time just keeps ticking right on by.

 So as we’re packing things away this year, drinking the last bit of egg nog (or whatever your splurge of choice is), and maybe feeling a little nostalgic and even sad, let’s not forget the real meaning of Christmas.  As we’re prepping for this new year ahead and making goals and resolutions and plans, let’s not leave the true reason for the season so far behind us that we don’t think about it again until next year. 

 The important truth that can tend to get overlooked is that while the holiday may end out our calendar year, Christmas doesn’t signify the end of something.  It actually represents a beginning

 Jesus came into our world and what was to come would be greater than anything anyone could imagine.  God’s rescue plan was unfolding on the earth.  Hope came alive!  

 And with that hope, He was bringing answers to questions.  He was bringing a solution to the greatest problem.  Perspectives were shifting.  Hearts were being drawn into an actual relationship with God that would bring freedom and wholeness.

Each year during this season, we can be reminded that with God, there is always hope.   Our stories, no matter what chapters they are currently on, are not over yet!  As long as we have breath in our lungs, we can experience the thrill of hope; both for this life we’re currently living, and for eternity.   

 That first Christmas was the start.  Everyday after was part of the ongoing story.  Part of your story.  Part of my story.  And we can live out these stories with hope because of Christmas. 

 Oh that we would remember that all year long and not just with the nostalgia of the season. 

 So if you’re anything like me and tend to be prone to the after-Christmas blues, may we be reminded, that while the month of celebrations may be over, the message of the season is not. Hope is still alive! And each time we grab onto it, we bring a little bit of Christmas right into the New Year--right into our everyday lives.