I want you to close your eyes for a moment. We are going to use our imaginations.
It’s December 25th. We’ll say it’s around 10pm. The kids/relatives/guests are in bed. The room is only lit by the lights from the Christmas tree, leaving shadows dancing up and down the walls. You have a blanket wrapped around you and your favorite beverage in hand. The house still smells like all the wonderful food you’ve been eating for the past 48 hours. Everything, in this moment, is perfect.
Open your eyes. Grab your journal or a piece of paper and pen. Write down how you want to feel in that moment. What will your house look like? What will it smell like? Who was with you? Was there music playing? What kind? Will you be exhausted or peaceful? Will you feel satisfied? Grateful?
What will your memories of December be? Did you go Christmas caroling? Did you do an Advent calendar? What were the books you read? The places you visited? The songs you sang? Were there prayers held close to your heart you saw answered? Did you feel God with you? Write it all down.
Now let’s work backwards.
You see, if we don’t right now figure out the end result of the holidays and Advent, it is going to get away from us. It just will.
I know, you haven’t even finished gathering Halloween costumes. I haven’t had that slice of homemade apple pie that tells me it’s Fall. How can I possibly start planning for Christmas? Here’s how.
Because on December 25th at 10pm I know exactly how I want to feel and what I want to have accomplished. For me, the biggest thing is to let me kids see Jesus and to experience the wonder of God with us, and they won’t if I spend the month trying to get little projects and shopping done.
I’m choosing to do it now.
So yesterday I filled a mason jar with rum and split vanilla beans. I tucked it into a dark corner and in six weeks I’ll pour the vanilla extract into individual jars tied with ribbon for the crossing guards and piano teachers. Next week I’ll do something else. And I’ll keep doing, a little at a time so on December 25th when I’m surrounded by my family, I’ll be able to smile contentedly without regret.
So here's your homework. Find some time to dream and plan out your holiday season. Do it from Thanksgiving through Christmas. Keep coming back to it over this week. And pray about it. Ask God to show you if there are people you want to give to, organizations to volunteer at, people to bake for, or just ways to make God's love shown a bit more. Allow God to speak to you. Let's start finding Him even here, in the edges of our day.