The Christmas movie, Christmas with the Kranks, was based on a 2001 John Grisham novel called Skipping Christmas. In the film, the Kranks only daughter wasn't going to be home for Christmas, so her parents decided to skip Christmas and use the over $6,000 savings for a vacation.
While I doubt that many of us, or any of us, would ever want to follow the Krank's plan to skip Christmas if we aren't careful we can find that we "miss" Christmas.
December can be a busy month. Full schedules end up bursting their seams! Usually, the events and gatherings in December are good things, causing us to not say no to anything! So, we don't. We attempt to do everything, filling up our calendar.
As wonderful as getting together with family and friends, decorating, and all the other beloved traditions of this season may be, they may also cause us to miss the deepest joy of the season. We miss Christmas when our focus on the busyness of the season squeezes out our opportunity to connect with God's gift of Jesus. We miss Christmas when our schedules are so full of stuff we have to do that we are no longer able to hear the whisper of the Spirit. We miss Christmas when the anxiety of overly full schedules replaces anticipation and awe of what God has done.
So, how can we make sure we don't miss Christmas? Here are some suggestions:
1 - Invite God to be part of your preparation. Whether you are putting up decorations, shopping for that hard to please loved one, or attending a gathering that you may not want to be, ask God to show you his presence.
2 - Set some time aside and read through the Christmas Story. You can find the accounts of Jesus' birth in Luke chapters 1 and 2:1-40 and also Matthew 1:18-25. Reading these through Advent is a great way to be grounded in the meaning of this season. You don't have to read these accounts in one sitting either. Why not spend a few moments in the morning or evening reading a paragraph or so concerning the reason we celebrate?
3 - Find time to reflect: December can be a busy month. Putting up decorations, buying presents, Christmas programs, get-togethers, and other activities and events filling our schedules causing us to look forward to the end of the season. Silence, rest, and prayer create space for God. What would happen, if you intentionally scheduled some times of silence, rest, or prayer to make sure you have left space for God? Of course, scheduling such time may mean you have to say "no" to something else. Making space for God in your life will be well worth it.
4 - Noticing God: When Moses was tending sheep, he noticed a burning bush. What is amazing isn't that Moses saw a burning bush, but that he noticed it and went to it. It was from the bush that God spoke to him. In the middle of an ordinary season of Christmas, I pray you would notice God. May you notice God as you celebrate the birth of Jesus.