When you think of Christmas, what comes to mind? The birth of the Prince of Peace? Joy, love and goodwill to all? Or obligation, stress and consumerism and dread? A feeling of, “I can’t listen to Michael Bublé’s Christmas album ever again.. and I just want it all to be over...!!”
For many of us, it’s a confusing combination of both. We feel pulled towards a simple, generous Christmas that celebrates the truly good news of Jesus’s birth and the hope for tomorrow that is found in following him. But then we’re pushed in another more worldly direction – to literally “buy in” to our thriving consumer culture. (As for the stress of Christmas Day family dynamics, let’s not even go there....)
Also, after the heavy year that we've lived through, this Christmas feels different. For many of us, it may be difficult to feel hopeful after a year in which we have seen so much suffering, both in Australia and around the world.
How can we tap in to the joy and hope that the Christmas story is all about – and celebrate the most amazing story in the world in a more life-giving, humble and generous way? Here are a few ideas to inspire you.
Here are five ideas for a more hopeful Christmas
What about intentionally opening your home to others this festive season (in a COVID-friendly way of course)? Invite someone who lives alone or is on the margins for a meal or a picnic in a local park. Or offer to host a (small) neighbourhood street party and help people in your community feel more connected.
Time has become a precious commodity in our busy lives. Give the precious gift of time for those who are elderly, sick or lonely, or friends and family you would like to spend more time with. Make time for God – spend time praying, reading your bible and reflecting on Jesus’s birth, and how the hope, joy and peace he brought to our weary world is still relevant today.
Say no to expensive, unnecessary gifts and instead be more generous to those who don’t have enough – both in Australia and around the world. One way is to buy a gift from Tearfund’s Useful Gifts Catalogue and contribute to our partners’ programs which support communities facing poverty and marginalisation. www.usefulgifts.org.au
Be more mindful of what you do buy at Christmas: choose ethical or sustainable options where possible – or buy second hand. Make some gifts too – get the whole family involved and enjoy some time being creative together, instead of rushing around the shops. Ideas include handmade cards, chutney, jam or accessories like fabric brooches for teachers. Or give away produce from your garden like herbs or vegies!
Creating a special tradition can help connect you and your family more deeply to the hope of the Christmas message and create treasured memories for years to come. It could be lighting Advent candles, using a creative Advent calendar or devotional, or attending a special Christmas event. Or what about donating money to a cause as a family or deciding to donate to or volunteer for a local organisation that delivers Christmas hampers to those in need – the ideas are endless!
Let's make our Christmas giving simple, meaningful and thoughtful – a source of joy that reflects the true spirit of the season.