by Rev. Adam Weber
This article was re-posted from an email – subscribe at adamweber.com.
The older you get, the easier it is for Christmas to feel boring and mundane. Or even worse, it’s easy for Christmas to feel like a chore, something to survive. This doesn’t have to be the case though! With that in mind…
Here are 12 ideas on how you can put some wonder back into your Christmas (and the strange week after):
Note: This isn’t a checklist. Just some ideas. We often build things like Christmas up in our minds and think everything has to be perfect. Let go of your expectations! Not every moment is gonna be Instagram-able. It can’t be! And that’s okay.
1. Look for a way to brighten someone’s day.
Pool some money together as a family or friend group. $20 total. $100. More. Discuss (and pray!) about things you could do or needs you know of. Think of an organization you can bless. Or maybe someone around you who is going through a hard situation, is lonely, or just needs some encouragement. Then go for it!
2. Share highs and lows.
With a friend over coffee or with your family during a meal. Have each person share a “high” and a “low” from the last couple of weeks. You might be surprised by what your family shares. You might even surprise yourself! We need more places to share celebrations and the low moments we walk through.
3. Go on a drive to look at Christmas lights.
Make hot chocolate, put on some Christmas music, and start driving. Important note: If 10 minutes in it’s not fun anymore (and the kids are screaming bloody murder!), you can be done. Drive around and encourage the car to share fun things you see along the way!
4. Read the Christmas story together.
Every year, one of my favorite moments is when Bec and I read the Christmas story (Luke 2:1-20) with our kids. Seeing my kids connect with God. Thinking about what it was like for Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, and the wise men—there’s really nothing like it. Important note: Don’t make this boring or feel like a chore! Make it fun. Protip: If you have kids, use the Kids Bible App to watch the story. Or watch the Bible Project video.
5. Bake some cookies.
With a friend, your spouse, or your kids. Get a recipe (here’s my Grandma Dahle’s chocolate chip cookie recipe), the ingredients, and jump in. Have kids? Don’t be like me and get uptight about making a mess or the recipe not being exactly right. Let the kids lead the way. One step further? After making the cookies, take some to a neighbor who might not have many visitors or to a friend!
6. Take a walk.
I walk year round (even here in the freezer we call South Dakota). Walking is great for your body and also your mental health. Get some fresh air. Take in the stars at night. Walking is good for the soul, too. As I walk, I almost always end up talking with God. Telling Him what I’m worried or dreaming about. Advice: If you know how to worry, you know how to pray. Just start telling your worries to God and not just to yourself.
7. Serve somewhere.
At your church. The Salvation Army. A food pantry. Anywhere you see a need. Note: This is a great way to bring joy, impact your city, and love people any time of year. If you’re struggling with worry, being anxious, or feeling miserable, one of the best remedies I’ve found is to serve, to take the focus off myself and put it on others.
8. Let your kids decide.
Give them a budget and have them plan an outing. If your kids are anything like mine, they’ll be surprised that you asked! “Dad really?!” And you’ll be surprised by their creativity. (Hopefully they don’t burn the house down in the process!) Your job? Be fully present and follow their lead!
9. If you have a fireplace, use it!
Away from Jesus, one of the greatest sources of peace in my life is my fireplace. I’m not joking! In the winter, I sit by it every single day. Fun fact: As I type this, I’m sitting in front of my fireplace. Whether it’s a gas or wood fireplace, there’s something about a fire that is good for the soul. At the Weber house, we have a wood fireplace. Gathering the wood from outside, getting it started—it’s almost meditative.
10. Watch a Christmas movie together.
Good popcorn is required! It doesn’t matter which Christmas movie (although I’d vote for Christmas Vacation!). Sure, you may have all of Home Alone or Elf memorized by now, but there’s something so fun and magical about Christmas movies. Plus, if you have kids or a spouse who hasn’t seen your favorite movie, it’s a great chance to share something you love.
11. Light a candle.
In the midst of the bright, shiny Christmas celebrations, the hard things you’re carrying often get lost in the shuffle. Whether you’ve lost a loved one this year, or years ago, take a moment to acknowledge to yourself and to God that you are still grieving. Feel whatever feelings you’ve been carrying around. Let the light of the candle remind you of Jesus’ hope in the darkest of times.
12. Attend a Candlelight Service.
If you grew up in church, you’ve probably attended one. The pastor stands up at the end of the service, you sing “Silent Night.” Everyone holds their candles high, while you do your best to keep your kids from starting the person next to them on fire. It might seem cringy, but the moment the whole church is lit only by the flames of candles and everyone sings the final “Christ our Savior is born” is so powerful. Let the holiness of the moment fill you with wonder this Christmas.
Wherever this Christmas finds you, I hope these ideas fill you with wonder and a deeper sense of God’s love for you.
Adam Weber is a pastor, author, and host of The Conversation podcast where he interviews guests about life, leadership, and loving others well. A native South Dakotan, he is the founder of and Lead Pastor at Embrace. He is the author of Talking With God and Love Has A Name. Adam received the Distinguished Evangelist Award from The Foundation for Evangelism in 2016. He and his wife, Becky, have four kids: Hudson, Wilson, Grayson, and Anderson. You can follow Adam on social media @adamweber.