I have a confession to make… please don’t judge me… this year we actually put up the tree and decorated our house on 25th November. I’d like to blame the circumstances, or the kids, but in truth we’re just Christmassy people. We make hot chocolates, put on our favourite family Christmas movie and then spend time enjoying unboxing the tinsel and lights and putting everything up. Of course, there is every chance I’ll be fed up of listening to Michael Bublé and the Pentatonix Christmas albums come Boxing Day, but for now I’m loving it!
Whether Christmas is a big deal in your house or not, I’d argue that most of us want to make the most of the season, so here are some of my top tips for making Christmas significant:
1) Make Memories and Treasure Traditions
Memories don’t have to cost a lot of money; they are an investment into relationships that money can’t buy. For the last five years, we’ve made a tradition out of bundling into the car with hot chocolates and York Fruit sweets and driving around Brickhill to look at Christmas lights. (There are some stunning houses on Kimbolton Road, Falcon Avenue and Swindale.) For us, it’s not about the activity, but more about being together.
We’re planning on making a tradition out of watching the brilliant Charlie Mackesy’s film “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse”. What’s your thing? Baking cakes? Building a gingerbread house? Having a sing-song? What are your Christmas traditions? If you don’t have any, start some!
2) Christmas is the Season for Giving and Sharing
Look for opportunities to spread love, kindness and generosity; whether through charitable acts, volunteering, or reaching out to those in need. We have the opportunity to embody Christ by sharing His love with others. Remember those around you — neighbours, colleagues or more distant family — who might appreciate someone checking in on them with a phone call or gift.
Invite others into your home. Showing hospitality and asking good questions is a great way of intentionally connecting with others. When asking questions remember to listen well and respond with love and encouragement.
Even among friends and family who don’t follow Jesus, the season presents a fantastic opportunity to offer prayer to people through the coming year. Asking the question, “how can I best be praying for you this Christmas time?” could open a world of opportunity to speak with joy about your faith while looking for a chance for God to break into people’s hearts and circumstances.
3) Someone has to say it, Banish Monopoly!
Actually to be fair, I like Monopoly, but there was once a Christmas occasion when Philippa and I fell out so badly after playing it that we decided to banish it from the house for a few years. However, I would encourage you to think about playing games over this season. We love games and they’re another opportunity to build relationships, over screen time, especially for children and young people.
Wilson family favourites are….
…for bigger groups: Articulate | Chain Reaction
…for kids: Taco, Cat, Goat, Cheese, Pizza | Diamant | Beat that
…for adults: Azul | Spendor
…for hardened gamers: Dominion
Remember, playing games isn’t just about winning! It can be an opportunity, amidst the hustle and bustle, to avoid getting caught up in the material aspects of Christmas as you spend quality time with family and friends.
4) Don’t miss this Roast Potato Hack
Ok, so this might be a bit of a strange one, but if you’re the one cooking Christmas dinner you’ll be glad you read this. Roast potatoes (in my humble opinion) are the best bit on your dinner plate and you can start preparations early. Several days early in fact! Peel and rinse some Maris Pipers potatoes then slow boil them to within an inch of their lives. Just before they’re ready to completely fall apart, drain them and lay them on parchment paper on a baking tray and pop into the freezer. On Christmas day, you can bang them straight into the oven, ideally (if you’re not a vegetarian) into hot goose fat. Give them as long as they need to get super crispy, gently turning every 15 minutes or so. You won’t regret it.
Of course, the dinner table isn’t just the best place for good roast potatoes but for good conversation. Turn off screens and connect with those you’re with. Whether you’re with other Christians or not, you can celebrate things you appreciate about one another or share things you’re thankful for from the past year.
5) Reflect on the True Meaning of Christmas
You knew I was going to make it here eventually right? I’d urge you please, take time amidst the festivities, to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas — the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. You’d be so welcome to attend our Christmas Eve or Christmas Day services, but why not also take some time in personal prayer and reflection to centre your celebrations around the significance of Emmanuel. God with us. There is no deeper sense of joy available than recognising our hearts’ gratitude for the gift of Jesus.
So, Merry Christmas everyone! May this be the best one yet.
Steve Wilson and the eFocus Team