Today I offer a short note as we prepare to celebrate with friends and family tomorrow. With all the challenges we’re constantly confronted with, it’s good to have an opportunity to step back and get things into perspective. There are great opportunities for those who understand the times. But there are even greater opportunities for those who put their faith in God and rest in His providence in season and out of season.

Each of us has our traditions, or lack thereof, when it comes to the Christmas season. Some of us get caught up in the materialism that this holiday has become. Others rebel against it by attempting to tone it down. Others ignore it all together. And a few of us attempt to step back, pursuing the event from a perspective that attempts to honor God.

For us, we have a few traditions we pursue. The first one caused some raised eyebrows in our family at first. We simply dropped the maximum price of all gifts for any individual to $30. Furthermore, all gifts had to have something to do with the biblical aspects of Christmas. In other words, they had to be focused on teaching about Jesus.

Another one that has added a more relational aspect to our celebration is to slow down in opening presents. Rather than ripping through them in a frantic free-for-all, we go slowly and methodically. One present is opened at a time, by one individual at a time. The person opening a present stops and makes sure to acknowledge who it’s from. If the giver is present, they thank them before opening it. Then, they open it in appreciation for the efforts of the giver. After investigating the gift and making any appropriate comments, it is then someone else’s turn to open a gift.

This isn’t something everyone needs to do. But I offer it as something we’ve pursued that has been quite helpful in promoting our relationships and focus on Christmas. It fosters appreciation for each person rather than focusing on the gifts. And by slowing down we offer the gratitude we should for their efforts. Perhaps you can adapt these in some way to your own traditions. Perhaps you have your own. If you have something that might help our readers, we’d love to learn about your traditions in the comments below.

Regardless of where this season finds you and who you are around, may you be a blessing to all who know you. And may this season offer an opportunity to relish in the greatest gift mankind has ever been given – the offer of reconciliation with our Creator through the sacrifice of the Son of God. May we never take Him for granted and worship Him as He truly deserves. And may your family have a wonderfully joyous Christmas celebration this year, relishing in the blessings of God’s grace in your lives.

Another Joe


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