By Heidi Vegh, Crosswalk.com
Christmas is one of the most special mornings of the year. However, there is a lot of expectation to make it look and feel a certain way. This can become overwhelming and take away the joy. By the time the morning arrives, we can sometimes be too exhausted to relish in the quiet of the day. After all the holiday season's hustle and bustle, we should take this day to rest, recuperate, and (if possible) stay in our pajamas all day, putting all worry aside. With Jesus, it is possible to lay our burdens at His feet and allow Him to carry the heavy load. "Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7
It is a good idea to plan ahead, so you can enjoy the day and rest. Unless you need to visit family and your day is chaotic, at least try to create a small space in the morning for reflection and joy. For some of us, the holidays are not the most joyous time of the year. You may have difficult memories from your childhood, going through the loss of a loved one, or you may be away from family. Unfortunately, despite the holly and jolly that the world seems to expect from this season, many people find it to be the most difficult time of the year. If you don't have special memories as a child or are in a difficult season of life, you can still add a little something to the morning to brighten your mood and make it special.
Each time we wake up in the morning is a new chance to seek the Lord and relish in His goodness, no matter our circumstances. The Lord longs to fill you with His joy and His love. Decide this year to rest in the greatness of the Lord on Christmas morning, no matter what.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23
Here are some things you can do to make Christmas morning extra special.
1. Remember the Reason for the Season
It is so easy to get caught up in what the world has created Christmas to be that we can quickly lose sight of what it truly is about. There are things we can do with our children during the holiday season to keep their eyes on Jesus and not on Santa and gifts. While there is nothing wrong with Santa and presents in and of themselves, if we focus on them more than the birth of Jesus, that takes away that simple joy of celebrating our Savior.
Starting the first Sunday of the month, we can participate in Advent with our family. It is a simple reading every Sunday of December. I have one candle for each Sunday labeled hope, joy, peace, and love. We light a candle, and I have one of my children read the corresponding verse. This guides our spirits back to Jesus once a week amongst the parties, shopping, baking, and card sending. It is a good idea to instill the truths of God's word into the young minds of our children. Reminding them that Jesus was prophesied about many, many years before He came to earth. Following an Advent plan or reading from Isaiah and Psalms gives them the perspective that the entire Bible is about Jesus and God's redemption story for His people.
Depending on when the last Sunday of December falls in relation to Christmas day, you can either read the last Advent or the Christmas story itself on Christmas morning. We do this before we start to open presents. It reminds us why we are giving gifts. It is to celebrate Jesus and to bless each other. If you have little ones, it's best to read a children's book about baby Jesus or to read Luke 1-2 in a Children's Bible. Ask them questions about what the night must have been like and what Jesus means to them now. Engage them in conversation about who Jesus is and what He has done for us. Then we can open presents with our spirits and hearts in the right place.
For to us a Child shall be born, to us a Son shall be given; And his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
2. Make a Yummy Make-Ahead Breakfast
I love to cook, but it can be unpleasant to be slaving away in the kitchen while everyone enjoys their new gifts and spends time together. I have found some great make-ahead recipes that can be prepared the night before. Then, all you must do on Christmas morning is pop it in the oven and wait for the sweet aroma to fill the house. Here are a few yummy recipes that you can prepare the night before; you will be so glad you did.
3. Create New Traditions
If you are anything like me, you love creating those little Christmas morning traditions that the kids will always cherish and even pass down to their own families. One fun thing to do is open one present right before you go to bed on Christmas Eve; it should always be new pajamas. Whether they are Christmas-themed or not, this is a fun tradition that everyone can look forward to. Everyone can go change for a family photo in front of the tree. This gets everyone excited and geared up for the following day.
When morning arrives, and your breakfast is baking, pull out the hot cocoa and let everyone sip while opening presents. As a festive activity, a couple of years ago, we each decorated our own Christmas mug to use only during Christmas time. These are the mug and paint markers that we used. Every year, pulling the mugs out of our Christmas boxes has been a fun tradition for my family. We like being reminded of their art skills as they get older. It's fun to have that Christmas activity being enjoyed year after year. (Keep in mind that the ink doesn't stay super well, so be careful when washing them and never put them in the dishwasher.) Put on your favorite music while opening presents, and don't worry about the mess. If you are a neat and particular person, it may bother you to have wrapping paper and ribbons strewn about, but just go with it for this day. Don't let perfection and tidiness get the best of you. Enjoy the mess and focus on the joy of your children ripping open presents and making a big mess.
Christmas doesn't need to look or feel a certain way, although that is what the world expects. Let's be careful not to get caught up in what it "should" look like and focus on what it is—celebrating the birth of Jesus. We are not just celebrating that He was born; we are celebrating who He IS! Let's remember that the world can make things look shiny, but God is our true light. We can't escape His love for us, and His son is the ultimate gift.
Heidi Vegh is a writer, speaker, and ministry leader living in Western Washington. She is a remarried mother of four, navigating the blended family life after the loss of her first husband to cancer in 2013. She longs to use her writing as a way to encourage others who have experienced loss and guide them on the road to healing. She contributes to her blog found at www.mrsheidivegh.com , sharing stories and devotionals of faith stemming from her loss and healing, mothering, and her blended and complex family. She graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a degree in Creative Writing and English and is working on her first book. Heidi is the Women’s Ministry Director at her local church and has a deep heart for sharing Jesus with women and encouraging them in their faith walk. When she is not writing, she loves to travel, read, craft, and experiment in the kitchen. Visit her Facebook and Instagram (@mrsheidivegh) to learn more.