Happy Sunday everyone! I have enjoyed this past week thoroughly and I hope you have as well. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of all because it is about food, family, and remembering the reasons you have for being thankful. Period. No gifts, no funky costumes (unless you count your fat pants as a costume). I usually take off the week of Thanksgiving to try to do some deer hunting and this year was no exception. I’m a bit odd when it comes to my hunting style, though. While I am always on the lookout for a nice deer for the freezer, I’m equally interested in the quiet as an opportunity to think and reflect on things that the busyness of life have just kept me from considering. It is a time I cherish each year.
It also just happens that this week was very unusual in one respect – you didn’t submit a single question! I suspect you were busy with your turkey and dressing and, if the TV commercials were any indicator, many of you were busy standing in line at 2 am on Friday morning to get a good deal on some ridiculous something for Christmas on pre-Black Friday. So I thought I’d take the opportunity to give you a piece of my mind about a very important subject – December 26th. I was thinking about how this day is one of the worst of the year for so many people because the reality of Christmas’s end has arrived. They spent all their time, money and effort trying to make December 25th so special that they have no energy to recognize that life doesn’t end on 12/25. They never planned beyond the big Christmas day events. So let’s talk about five ways you can love December 26th just as much as the day before it.
Before we get into my five ways, let’s talk about why you need to read this now. Simply put, I am giving you this information now because it is still early enough to act! If you’ll plan these five items now, you’ll be all set in a few weeks when the date comes.
- Don’t make Christmas about the gifts. Millions of families will spend more than they could ever possibly budget on stuff the recipients don’t even want or expect. Culture says you have to buy a gift for Joe Bob, his wife and their eleven kids, even though you haven’t seen them in 15 years and haven’t gotten a gift from them in…oh wait…you’ve never gotten anything from them. You understand how ridiculous this is as you read that, but if you look at your gift list, who is on there that has no business getting a gift from you? You know there are a few of them. And while you’re at it, how much do you plan on spending for the people who you really want to buy for vs. how much SHOULD you be spending? Don’t make Christmas all about overspending and you are on your way to enjoying Christmas and the day after much better.
- Start a fun family tradition for 12/26. When I was young, my self-inflicted 12/26 tradition was to get in lots of trouble, inevitably ending with a lecture about how little I appreciated all my parents did for me. Maybe you should set a different tradition. Just sayin’. Instead of going to all the stores to return the useless crap lovely gifts you just couldn’t use this year, you should make the day all about doing something fun as a family.
- Stop watching all the commercials! If you turn on your TV right now (to any channel), you’ll find dozens of ads in any hour-long segment trying to convince you to buy all kinds of useless crap lovely gifts for your friends/family. Just stop watching those cute little commercials and discover how much less stressed you’ll be, how much money you’ll save, and how much more you can enjoy the day after Christmas.
- Spend a little time thinking about what is really important. What about this Christmas will be remembered in five years? Will your family be concerned with the perfect gift wrapping? Will they care about the fancy do-dads decorating the house and the perfectly-basted turkey? Maybe, but chances are they’ll remember the fun memories that have very little to do with those things. What is it that is REALLY important in your life – you can be idealistic here. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big here. What is important? Focus on a little of that and Christmas memories will roll happily into the next day (and beyond).
- Don’t make it all about you. Most of the angst we have about Christmas comes from social pressures and selfishness. At the manger, how much selfishness was present? How much of Christ’s birth was about getting something you deserved? Zero. Then why is your Christmas celebration all about you? You do not deserve anything more than God’s grace gives you. Don’t make Christmas about you. Make it about what God did through Jesus and what it means for mankind. Then the day after Christmas will be just as special – every day will mean just as much because you can have a right recognition of great Christmas really is.