When it’s Christmas, we all get into the giving spirit. We talk about what we’re thankful for and spend time with loved ones and turn a charitable heart towards strangers as well.
We put a lot of focus on giving. Gift exchanges, donations, a platter of cookies for the neighbors. All of these things are well-intended and glorious parts of the season. And for many, it’s also a draining and exhausting time of year.
As we face the end of 2020, unsure of exactly what to expect from the last days of this unprecedented year, the best gift we can give ourselves, our loved ones and Christ is gratitude.
Gratitude for You
We’ll start here because this is the area most of us neglect this time of year. We show our deep affection and love for everyone around us, but tend to let our own well-being fall by the wayside. God wants us to love ourselves as we love Him and as He loves us. The best way to show yourself grace this season is through gratitude.
Start With It
If you haven’t begun writing in a gratitude journal, now is the time to start. It doesn’t have to be a fancy journal, it doesn’t have to take more than five minutes. Just commit a little bit of time every morning to listing all the things you are grateful for. Your children, your home, your health, your job. List as many things as you can and start off your day with an uplifting examination of your life.
Keep Promises to Yourself
You’ve committed to making tamales with your Nana, going on a Christmas Lights stroll with your sister and creating care packages with your church. But what commitments did you hope to hold yourself to? Are you trying to maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine? Are you building a business? Are you reserving time for rest?
Show yourself the same level of care and commitment this time of year that you show others.
Pray, Sing, Rejoice
In this Holy little season, we can fall into patterns of chaotic planning and overspending. None of that is needed or even wanted by God. He wants us firmly embraced in the miracle of Christ’s birth. So remember to pray. Turn up “Silent Night” as loud as it goes. Laugh and make memories that will show God just how grateful you are for your blessings. This season is the time for joy. Spread it, but also indulge in it!
Gratitude for Them
The way we show love to each other this time of year typically tends to be through mounds of presents under a tree, volunteer work with with twenty friends and family members and ugly sweater parties full of laughter.
But if this year has hit you extra hard and the extravagences that would usually accompany Christmas just aren’t in the budget, pivot, but don’t focus on the change.
Maybe you have a scaled down festivities, but you introduce a new tradition of playing games at night instead of doing huge piles of dishes. Or if presents are a pinch, take a day trip that gives you the opportunity to indulge in God’s glorious creation. And if parties are out for the year, have weekly theme nights where you cook something exotic, get dressed up for a date night in or have a fuzzy socks, cocoa and Christmas movie night.
We have a typical routine for how we show our loved ones love this time of year, but there are a million other ways to enjoy the season that require little money and next to no travel. Change the plan, but not the feeling.
Gratitude for Him
Whether you’ve been unable to attend services or you’ve let fear be the pervasive tone for the year, decide that now, more than ever, it’s time to hand it over to Him. One of the ways we can show our love for God is with our trust. He has an abundant, infinite capacity to care for us, but if we don’t let him in, we can’t move beyond our worldly woes.
It has been a hard year. It has been a scary year. Things do feel uncertain. But the number one thing we have to be grateful for is God’s love. And if we are living every moment in the difficulty, fear and unpredictability, we aren’t showing how grateful we are for His overwhelming grace. This season, decide you’re handing it all over. Decide you are no longer required to solve the world’s problems. Be grateful for the gift of releasing these hardships to Him and enjoy this time of celebration. It’s what He wants for all his children.
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