I read something on Instagram recently that continues to stick with me (I would link it, but darn you Instagram algorithm, I can’t find anything twice) – the poster had asked her pastor whether it was better to put up your Christmas decorations early or late in the Advent season and he asked, “Is doing it bringing you closer to Jesus?” And for her, the answer was yes. She mentioned that she had been having such great quiet time with Jesus in the mornings, sitting in her decorated living room.
And since I read that post I’ve had that question ringing over and over again in my head.
Is doing this thing going to bring me closer to Christ?
Because the goal of the Advent season, and our whole lives really, is to draw near to Him. I’ve found this question quite clarifying as I wade through the Christmas season chaos. It has lead me to surprising conclusions in some cases.
For instance, we aren’t really doing Christmas decorations this year.
Ok, I’ll give you a minute to stop judging me. Actually, we just pared down to the essentials. We do have some decorations up. But compared to Christmases of the past, our house is shockingly bare. It wasn’t planned really. I even toted all of the Christmas tubs up from the basement. They stayed up here still packed, in the middle of everything, for a week. Staring at me, reminding me of my inadequacy, of all the things I leave undone. And then I returned to my key question – Is this thing bringing me closer to Christ? The answer was clearly no. And we toted them all back down again.
At this point, I fear you may want to accuse me of being a Grinch, or maybe a Mr. Krank (although I love both the book and movie) but I promise I’m not. I love decorating for Christmas and in past years, I got great joy from filling every nook and cranny of my space with Christmasy things. I mean, read this post. But this year is different. It is a season of littles, residency, new town, new jobs means that it makes more sense to simplify and focus in on the essentials.
I pulled out a few things, the things that I was missing, the “must haves”. That list included – our Christmas books, the toddler-friendly Christmas ornaments, a small nativity, and our stockings (it is hard to overstate my love for our matching Christmas stockings). We also put up some lights and inflatables outside.
And I cherish my clearly-decorated-by-a-3-year-old tree.
Unlike Mr. Krank or the Grinch, I’m not trying to skip Christmas at all. In fact, I’m trying to lean into it more fully and draw near to the real reason for the season. I’m also trying to teach my children about the incredible gift of the Incarnation and I can’t do that unless I’ve made room for Christ to dwell, right here, inside of me. (Which is a deeply sobering reality, btw.)
So this season I press on with the question that just won’t go away – Is this bringing me closer to Christ?