How to keep the wonder in Christmas

Wonder. Magic. The power of the holiday. The essence of Christmastime.

How do you keep the wonder in Christmas?

So hard to define and so easy to lose.

Because of the lure of wonder, I always snooped in closets and under the tree until I found the gifts for me (when I was a kid. Not now.) I shook presents. I even unwrapped them and re-wrapped them. I had to know. (I became a good present-wrapper at a young age. It’s a good skill, people. Don’t judge me.)

Kids wonder about Santa Claus. Adults wonder during candlelight services and Christmas carols sung by a choir. We somehow all wonder at live nativities.

We wonder how God himself could morph into a human body and be born as a helpless infant to two unexperienced young people. In the first century. Under Roman occupation. Into average everything. How and why and wow.

We wonder at the multitude of angels singing to shepherds. Of wisemen traveling for two years because an unknown star appeared in the night sky. Of Herod’s slaughter of infants in an effort to find and kill one tiny child.

Everything about Christmas inspires wonder.

Perhaps Christmas wonder is the catalyst that brings families together, that reconnects neighbors, that initiates generosity and charity toward the human race. Wonder is an act of worship. And worship always inspires goodwill toward men.

If you’d like a little more wonder for your Christmas season (or in your real life), you don’t need a new miracle or an extravagant gift. Those have already happened. Our wonder directly correlates to our recognition of the magic already at work around us. Love has already been given. Grace has already been received. We just need to return to the wonder of it all.

Here are some suggestions for keeping the wonder in Christmas (and your normal life):

  • Hang out with some children, even if they aren’t yours.
  • Give to someone who can’t or won’t give back.
  • Share something private and significant with someone you trust.
  • Stop doing everything and focus on doing just one joy-giving activity.
  • Get out a calendar for the year and designate those nagging tasks to specific days, spread out over the year. Then stop thinking about them and enjoy the now.
  • Gravitate toward beauty. Decorate—or if you’re not a decorator, go somewhere that’s decorated for Christmas and enjoy it, guilt-free.
  • Write out a prayer or sentence of thanksgiving every day.
  • Go for a walk, a run, a bike ride, something outdoors that takes at least 30 minutes.
  • Read the Christmas story in Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2.

Still feel overwhelmed and anxious this season? You’re not alone. Look at these 7 prayers of Christmas, prayed that first Christmas by key characters in the story. These individuals were overwhelmed, too. And then God overwhelmed them with wonder and joy simply because they turned to him.

  • Prayer #1: “How is this possible?”–Mary’s request for understanding (Lk. 1:21-28)
  • Prayer #2: “Glory to God!”–Mary’s song of praise ( Lk. 1:21-55)
  • Prayer #3: “What should I do?”–Joseph’s prayer of grief (Matt. 1:18-20)
  • Prayer #4: “Where is he?”—The wisemen’s prayer for direction (Matt. 2:1-12)
  • Prayer #5: “Please protect us”–Joseph’s request for deliverance (Matt. 2:13-23)
  • Prayer #6: “I see what you’re doing”–Simeon’s prayer of power (Lk. 2:5-35)
  • Prayer #7: “I am blessed”–Anna’s thanksgiving (Lk. 2:38)

Have a blessed week! Pace your chocolate-eating. Wrap those gifts. Hang those lights. Or just sit by a fire and read the Christmas story. Be captivated by the wonder of the season.

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