What if Christmas was every day? Because it kinda should be—

Written by Kate Stevens
Published on December 30, 2022

When Christmas-tide comes in like a bride,

With holly and ivy clad,

Twelve days in the year, much mirth and good cheer

In every household is had

From The Praise of Christmas, 1630

Christmas-tide is the period from December 24 to Epiphany Eve on January 5. Advent is over, but tradition has it to where Christians leave up their decorations and continue celebrating the birth of Christ with gifts, feasting, and acts of service. Nowadays, most are ready to take down Christmas on the 26th because they have been steeped in it since November 1.

I think another truth of it is that we get a bit restless with all the celebrating, readying ourselves instead for “normal life” of the 8-5, the after school pick up lines, the regular dinners, the practice schedules, the routine of a balanced and predictable budget not blown by last minute generosities for our kids and others. . .  Then we set ourselves up to wait another 11 months to start celebrating the coming of the Messiah again.

It wasn’t until this year that I started to rethink my own attitude surrounding holidays—the before, during, and after. Yes I feel the expectation (provided by yours truly) around every holiday and special occasion to foster an atmosphere for my family where memories are created and everyone knows how to biblically handle the celebration of Christ’s death and resurrection, the attention they receive on their birthday, admiration for the reformers, an extra measure of gratitude at Thanksgiving, and especially Christ’s birth.

But my preparation has been just another thing added to my tasklist. I’ve prayed for joy to come with it, and the Lord is faithful to provide that. But quite honestly, once the calendar has switched over I’m relieved the frenzy has subsided and it’s time to take out the recycling and repurpose the honey ham. This leads me to question the impetus of my own celebration. 

I’m out of shape

I’ve come to the conclusion that I am out of shape. I’m by no means an aspiring athlete, but I know that if you don’t work out consistently then you lose your breath after 2 flights of stairs or break into a sweat carrying groceries inside your house. The same is true if your celebration is dictated by a man-made calendar rather than God’s design of a steady practice of joy and merrymaking and feasting.

My life, then, must be one of constant recognition of who God is, the gifts He daily gives, and the ways I am to respond in kind. 

In John Piper’s book “The Dawning of Indestructible Joy” he says, “God’s gifts are precious beyond words, and we will sing of them forever. But the most precious gifts you can think of are not ends in themselves. They all lead to God himself. Ultimately, that is what all his gifts are for.” 

God has given us immeasurable gifts, and I want to look at three specific ones we are told to regularly and intentionally recognize. 

Children, worship, and the Sabbath

Children are one of our most tangible gifts from the Lord (Psalm 127:3). They are not projects, pets, nor are they accessories to make us happy. They are not inconveniences, burdens, nor are they our enemies. It is immensely easy for me to lose sight of this and something I repent of often. 

Furthermore, this means that my girls’ friends are gifts. All the chubby faces with high pitched squeals and screams at church are gifts. The little ones in public who are taking a minute to let everyone know their feelings are gifts. Whereas the other aforementioned gifts come with a timeline of when to exercise your celebration, children do not. That is a 24/7 celebration—whew!

A weekly gift from the Father is corporate worship, or church. There are many cases to be made for being in fellowship with other believers, including Hebrews 10:25 that directs us in “not neglecting to meet together.” God gifted us with the church so that we would have a people to have “all things in common” with (Acts 2:44). 

In Hebrews there is a series of blessings the church has, each one introduced with “let us:” draw near with confidence to the throne of grace (4:16), hold fast the confession of our hope (10:23), stir one another up to love and good works (10:24), hold firmly to the faith (4:14), leave elementary teachings (6:1), throw off what hinders us (12:1). And there are more—but these all are gifts we (plural subject there) are to recognize and weekly join in together with the church. 

Finally, God commanded us to honor the Sabbath and keep it holy (Exodus 20:8–11). In Genesis 2:3 God blesses the seventh day, something He did not do with the other days; therefore, this is a unique day given to us as a gift we are to open every week. What this looks like logistically is different for everyone. Some start sundown Friday like the Jews, while others start sundown Saturday like the Romans. Either way, what’s important is that we take a Sabbath rest from work, fully believing that obedience will bear fruit horizontally and vertically. 

Jesus came to fulfill the Law (Matthew 5:17), so we do have our ultimate rest in Him. However, we are still held to this mortal rest, and what an immensely good thing that is! God gifting us time away from work every single week? We are foolish to leave it wrapped up and neglected. 

Practice celebrating

If these gifts from God that we are to open daily and weekly seem ordinary, mundane, and not super exciting, then we have surely grown dull of hearing and seeing. Likely we have let our imaginations and creativity and attention be captured by the cares of the world. Likely we have become out of shape in delighting in and considering joy in God’s good gifts. 

It’s easy to look at our Christian holiday celebrations as “not real life.” And that’s true in part—cities do not have weekly parades, we don’t tend to regularly buy presents for our people to then gather and exchange, we don’t have a daily countdown each month, and I know of nobody who routinely goes door to door singing songs. Holidays have exceptional traditions and occasions with them as they should. 

However, we need to take this view of celebrating Advent and apply it to the daily and weekly gifts the Lord has given. In Doug Wilson’s book, “My Life For Yours,” he points out how we aren’t even mandated to celebrate Christ’s birth. We are, however, mandated to keep a Sabbath, gather as a church, and view our children as rewards and gifts. We should practice our celebration much in the same way Paul tells us to practice thinking noble and praiseworthy things (Philippians 4).

Marked as a people of joy

So what of it, then? We celebrate these gifts! When in your life has someone given you a gift that you smile at and then put in a closet or drawer? Never—because that’s rude, and our curiosity is too high! The gifts from the Lord come in the form of materiality as well as spirituality, but they are all soul shaping. And isn’t your curiosity a bit heightened when you think of what sort of bounty will be found in these gifts?

Here are my current takeaways: My daughters—I think the Lord calls them a gift because of the sanctification they bring about. I love having this very conversation with my daughters because it keeps me from being a discipleship bully where I think I’ve been gifted to them for proper shaping. Rather, this is where all my efforts of hospitality should begin.

We have only practiced Sabbath for a few months now, and we do this on Saturdays.  I have found the silence of no phone to be most welcoming. I’m writing more and started sketching with my girls. We do work around the farm. We make bigger, more extravagant meals, and we always eat dessert. We nap. We trust that the work we have done will be enough to suffice our obligations, and we rest in God’s design. This is also an easy connection when it comes to exercising hospitality.

Sabbathing on Saturdays has given us a lovely setup for Sundays, but it wasn’t until recently that I started viewing the church as a gift to celebrate. This, too, is a natural means of hospitality. This one is a work in progress, so stay tuned. 

All in all, our daily and weekly celebrations will mark us as a people of joy—and if we are wanting to be holy, to be set apart, then be joyful, not exhausted. 

So let us not hold all our applause till the end but live in a joyful, celebratory, delightful way of recognizing God’s good gifts to His people, always practicing and discovering new ways to highlight these for ourselves and those around us.

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Kate Stevens

Kate Stevens is a worshiper, wife, and mom. By vocation, she teaches high school students English, Bible, and debate, and has been doing so for fourteen years.  In addition, she serves as a freelance editor.  You can read more from her as she develops her newly published blog: “HEM-ology: Somewhere between zoology and theology.”

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