How is it possible that the day of the year set aside as a Holy Day to celebrate the greatest gift ever given usually finds us exhausted, stressed, and even at times depressed? Our children wake up all excited in anticipation of presents that in the end may or may not be what they expected. Spirits tend to dwindle as we move through the day ending up tired, over sugared, and overwhelmed ready to fall into bed exhausted.

  We all have a desire to focus on the Lord. As believers. we usually plan to do our best to make the season one that is about worship and gratitude. Honestly, how is that working for you?

It has been a lifelong challenge for me and I still have not arrived. It is just too easy to get so busy with the doing that we overlook the need to be still. It is hard to worship when we don't take time to still our hearts and purpose to remember what it means that He is God and He is with us.

Stop right now. Take a deep breath. Let it out slowly. Repeat after me, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” He came to set the captives free not to make us slaves to the traditions of our families and cultures. Break free this year and do something different. Determine to take time to worship Jesus for at least 30 minutes every day from now till Christmas Day. Do it for yourself personally but also make time to do this with the children in your life.

If your children are still at home, your grandchildren nearby, or you teach a Sunday School class, you might consider doing Christmas craft projects. During your times of creativity: sing Christmas Carols, memorize the Christmas story together, or take turns sharing your favorite blessings of Christmases past. Be sure to keep the crafts simple but meaningful so that you can work and chat at the same time.  

Reading good Christmas books with some meaningful messages, or watching Christmas movies that have Christian themes and then taking the time afterward to share one another’s thoughts and feelings can be worshipful and produce quiet thoughtful hearts that are filled with gratitude.

You can find some really great books at: https://www.christianbook.com/page/christmas/christmas-for-kids/childrens-christmas-books and movies at: https://www.christianbook.com/page/christmas/christmas-dvds-and-blurays/christmas-dvds-for-kids

Plan to take time daily at home or weekly at church to slow things down with your children. Help them to remember, to think through, and to focus on the real meaning of Christmas, before Christmas Day. I believe that if you do, you will find the day is more likely to be one of worship and gratitude than one of chaos and tired bodies just going through the traditional motions.

There are no easy answers, no guarantees when it comes to preparing our hearts or actually making our Christmas really about Christ and less about us, the decorations, the traditions, the food, and the presents. If we work at it though, a little more every year, we will eventually find ourselves truly worshipping and even more grateful for the quiet reflections than we are for the tinsel and the tastes of the season. The greatest result of all of this will be, that we will establish a new tradition for our children to carry with them into their families. What a blessing will be, this tradition of spending time together as family, chatting, remembering, reflecting together every year.

It is never too late to start. Let’s purpose to take time from the doing to rest in His love, to just be with Him in song and in His Word.  Let’s help our family to worship the Christ of Christmas daily with worship moments woven throughout our merry making, so that Christmas Day will be a crescendo of worship and gratitude.

I am praying that this year will be different for all believers everywhere. “Lord, this year, let there be fewer depressed, overwhelmed, believers fighting through the Christmas chaos and more intentional worshipers who are wise enough to take the time to seek Your Son, the Christ of Christmas. In Jesus' name I pray this for His glory and our good. Amen”

Suzi Ciliberti works for Christar, a Missions Agency that plants churches among least-reached Asians worldwide. She served in Japan for two years as a single missionary and another nine with her husband and two children, then the family returned to the states. She and her husband have been serving in the US Mobilization Center since 2000. As a part of the Member Care Department, Suzi is consultant to families with children. She has been working as a children’s teacher since she was 17 and began her training under Child Evangelism Fellowship. She has taught in the church, as a school teacher for two years in a Christian elementary school, and as a speaker for adults training to work with children. She has also trained children, who are a part of families that work overseas, in their identity in Christ. She brings 44 years of teaching experience to her work. She loves creative writing as well as teaching and has found great fulfillment in combining the two as she blogs for Heartprints. She finds it a great privilege and joy to serve the Lord and His people. One of her favorite verses is Deuteronomy 4:10b, "Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children."