So, it’s been over 3 months since I’ve been able to post anything on this blog. Life hit me like a crazy train. I moved back to Brazil, and once here, I actually boarded the bullet train. With very few days back, I was back in some of the ministries I had been in before, and I had to finish my scientific research Project for my bachelors in Culinary Arts. It has been a joy being back “home”, finding my niches again, and just being back to the familiar and comfortable. And, now that I’ve finished 95% of my research project, finished the first cycle of teaching in children’s church, helped plan the biggest party of the year for my youth group, got back into TEFL with 15 classes a week, and participated in my church’s Christmas program, I am finally able to sit down and relax, just a little.
Here we are, with Christmas right around the corner, and I’ve not been able to get into my Christmas groove. I have always loved this time of year; I think I’ve always been the biggest Christmas fan in my family. This year, however, has been a little difficult to get into all the cheer.
It was last Christmas day, that my Grandmother was diagnosed with metastasized cancer, and this year our family has had some major downs, and a few ups. But, amongst all the grief and stress, I really hope this Christmas can be a time to reflect on why Christ came to earth as a baby. Up until a few days back, we hadn’t decorated anything, I hadn’t even been listening to Christmas songs (my favorite tradition). Although, some people might say, those things aren’t necessary for Christmas, and they might be right, I enjoy all the reminders at Christmas time. Christmas isn’t just any old holiday. Christ becoming a baby, a being that is so defenseless, without honor, with no prestige or pompousness. God’s decision of becoming a perfect man with no sin, so that through this little baby we might one day have life. The reason for this holiday is probably the biggest and most important occasion to ever happen to the human race, and I like celebrating that. There should be decorations, parties and celebrations! We celebrate the birth of a little baby, who would change the course and history of mankind. The decision of God to become a perfect blameless man, so that we could have life through this baby.
These last few weeks, as I was teaching in the children’s class at church, I always started off asking for prayer requests and thank-yous, and every week, at least one of my kids, would thank God, “for sending his son to die on the cross for our sins.” These kids only 4 to 6 year olds, really understand what is important. So many times with our stress filled lives and our running around, we end up forgetting, what we really should be thankful for. How many times in the last week of our busy schedules, have we stopped and thanked Jesus specifically for dying on the cross? There are days, when it is difficult just to have time enough to stop and read His word, much less to pray. And when we do pray, how many times do we thank him not only for His sacrifice, but of abandoning his celestial and divine glory and surrendering himself as a baby. He being God, had no need to redeem us, but because of His love, lived a life of a man, as we do, but lived holy, perfect, without sin.
This year the Lord has blessed me so much, with physical, attainable and measurable things. But the greatest gift he keeps on giving is His mercy, his forgiveness and his grace. I can’t forget to be grateful for these things. To me, it is a necessary thing to celebrate Christmas and to get into the Christmas “spirit”, it’s the time of year, that I am able to stop all the craziness of this life, and reflect a little more, on the love of Christ for me.
So, for anyone else who is having a harder time getting into the Christmas spirit, here’s my list of to do’s for this holiday: things I’m going to be doing in the next few days and weeks to be able to focus on what I should be focusing on.
- Decorate small Christmas tree with special ornaments
Our family has always put up a few decorations throughout the house to remind us of Jesus as a baby. Also, when we were kids, our mom would give us Christmas ornaments specifically for each person; lots of times with a reminder of some blessing that God gave us during the year. For example, the year I learned how to read, my mom gave me an ornament shaped like a pencil. Ever since we were going, we learned to thank God for our accomplishments during the year.
- Read through Luke
As a family, we would all read the story of Jesus through the Gospel of Luke in the month of December.
- Spend time with family, meditating on Christ and his love
- Listen to Christmas music
I love listening to Christmas music. Some of them are more reflecting on God’s gift to us, and others are more fun. But they always help me to change my focus from my everyday life to the celebration that was coming up.
- Watch Christmas movies.
Christmas movies are also excellent mood setters for the Christmas spirit.
- Have a “cold” night.
Living in a tropical country, but knowing “white Christmases” in other countries can sometimes put a damper on the mood. In other years, I’ve had a “cold” night, where I would set the air conditioner to the lowest temperature, put on some comfortable Pjs, cuddle up with a blanket while I watched a Christmas movie and sipped on my hot chocolate with marshmallows (something that is hard to get here).
- Spend time relaxing with friends
- Bake some Christmas cookies or other desserts
We don’t have the tradition here in Brazil of baking Christmas cookies or pies for our neighbors. But as a family, my mom would bake some banana bread and give it to our friends and neighbors. Lots of times, a gospel tract would go with the baked goods to our non-Christian neighbors. Me, being the family baker nowadays, would like to continue this tradition here.
- Memorize Isaiah 9:2, 6-7.
- Look at old Christmas family photos
Always living a long ways away from many family members, this time of Christmas was always a time when we got to see family that it had been sometimes years since we last saw them. Today, with all of my siblings living far away, it’s even more difficult for the family to get together. The only way we’ve actually been able to get the entire family together in the past 15 years has been through skype. So, to look at some of our old Christmas pictures is very nostalgic as well as fun.
- Buy one special gift for someone extra special.
Our family this year, is not spending very much money during Christmas. We decided to buy one gift for someone But I would like to choose one person, from my family or my friends or maybe even someone I would like to get to know better, to buy and give an extra special present to them.
- Take a family photo
To remember this year, the blessings He has given us during this year, and in the future to be able to remember and be able to tell our kids about how God blessed us in 2016.