Today’s post comes from Jen Murphy, Manager of Retreats & Events at the Center. Let’s read about how she’s lifting her spirits right now.

christmas lights

Breaking the Rules to Find the Light

I am what you would call a Christmas enthusiast. I love everything Christmas…the special church services, songs, movies, pageants and the decorations. I enjoy finding the perfect gifts for family members, driving around looking at lights, the smell of Christmas cookies in the oven and the many special traditions that my family never misses. There has always been one caveat to my enthusiasm though – it all begins the day after Thanksgiving and not a moment before. The retail Christmas decorations that are displayed next to Halloween costumes and the holiday music that funnels through the radio in early November have always been something that makes me shake my head. It’s a big no-no for me until Thanksgiving has passed! It just never felt right to bring on the spirit that early. We have wonderful family traditions for Thanksgiving too, so why rush into the season of Advent and Christmas preparations, right?

Something has happened this year though. Thanksgiving is a week away and I’m already feeling the urge to start celebrating Christmas! What is happening to me? Someone check my temperature! A few weeks ago I found myself browsing the aisles of sparkly decorations and ornaments. Many of my gifts have already been purchased. My family and I even sat down to watch a Christmas movie last weekend! I’m breaking all of my Christmas timing rules!

This is indeed a year like no other though. With constant bad news all around, I am yearning for good news, for more joy in my life and for those I care about. I think that this explains why I am seeking the light and joy of Christmas on an entirely different level. I’m craving the celebration of THE Good News that we can all depend on.

A friend of mine posted about her similar feelings on social media and she used the analogy of the Whos in Whoville from The Grinch that Stole Christmas. Others are decorating earlier in their own effort to spread a little cheer. And, like the Whos, the “gifts” may not be the same this year, but we can still be the light for each other and our Christmas spirit can shine even brighter.

In my home, we are going to embrace the spirit of Christmas and our “Hallmark” traditions with a renewed spark this year. It’s not just about the early decorations, shopping and baking either. I think that our holiday giving will be even more meaningful this year as there are so many more in need around us. As we are forced to slow down our daily activities, we will be more intentional about the greeting cards and pictures that we send to home-bound loved ones and we will spend more time researching the greatest needs of our local food bank and church ministries too. There are countless ways to embrace this extra time we have been given and to be creative in our methods of honoring our faith during the season of Advent.

Yes, there will be things that we greatly miss this year, but if we focus on the light…our faithful, one true Light of the world…then we can hold onto the hope and joy, even in the midst of the despair around us. Maybe, just maybe, our hearts may even “grow three sizes” this year.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” ~John 8:12

Are you yearning for a little early Christmas cheer this year too? Please comment below to share about your favorite traditions that are COVID-proof – the traditions that you’ll be able to continue this year too