I always have a hard time letting Christmas go. I love the festive display of light and color—and even the tastes and smells of the season. I love Christmas candies and cookies, especially the traditional recipes that my mom and my grandma have been making for as long as I can remember. I keep burning my “Christmas Tree” scented candle long after December 25th, and my cinnamon pinecones continue to fragrance the air well into January. Traditions comfort me, and I look forward to my family’s customary Christmas breakfast of egg casserole, fruit salad, sausage, and cinnamon rolls—and our dinner of prime rib and twice-baked potatoes. I love the dependable routine of breakfast, gift-opening, and a relaxing afternoon on Christmas Day.
Even after the festivities have ended, though, I can hardly bear to let it all go. Our tree has officially died and drops its crisp needles in greater droves every day, but I can’t convince myself to pull off the ornaments, or to put away the rest of my decorations. It all feels so cheerful and beautiful, and I want my house to stay that way all year.
Maybe I cling to Christmas because of all the wonderful, special memories that I have associated with the Christmas season—time spent with my family, most treasured of all. My parents always worked to make it a truly magical time, and I have countless happy memories of hilarious stories told around the dinner table, accompanied by hysterical laughter. Mom and Dad never made it “all about” the presents, but they did take time to give us meaningful, fun presents, and we always felt spoiled. I remember one year, when we were fairly young, Mom and Dad spent who knows how long (after we had gone to bed Christmas Eve) building our new Lincoln Logs into an elaborate “village” on the floor in front of the Christmas tree, and then filling it with all sorts of accessories—wow, did our jaws hit the floor when we came out to see that on Christmas morning! Another year, there were so many DVDs given between my parents and siblings that we laid out a grid of at least 35 movies on the living room floor after we finished opening presents.
I also have many special memories of advent family devotions: lighting the advent candles and reading Scripture passages and wonderful books such as Jotham’s Journey, one of our advent favorites. I loved the beautiful advent wreath and the significance of the five candles. Now in my own home, I still treasure my advent wreath, passed down to me by my mom. I realized this year that I had no advent book to read, so I ordered God is in the Manger by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, which I truly enjoyed and plan to reread for years to come.
I suppose, on the surface, that I love Christmas because of the nostalgia and all the wonderful memories I treasure. But more deeply, I love the special reminder of God’s incredible grace in the gift of His Son, and I don’t want to let my renewed appreciation for that grace disappear. In this sense, I steadfastly refuse to let Christmas go; I want to hold onto the beauty and joy of the gospel message of Christmas all year long. Even when we finally do take down our tree and the rest of the decorations—even when the dormant trees outside my window bud and winter’s chill melts away—I want the beautiful songs of Christmas and the sweetness of the Christmas message to remain in my heart.
So maybe, after all, it’s okay for me to not want to let Christmas go. In a sense, we all would do well to keep Christmas and its special reminder of God’s astounding grace in our hearts all year long.