The celebration of Christmas is a bittersweet experience for many people. We get caught up in the excitement of the season. We fill our December with church events, work parties, family gatherings, and shopping excursions. We embrace the spirit of the Advent. Our anticipation builds as Christmas Day approaches. But it all comes to end on December 26, and we’re faced with a 364-day wait to experience it all again.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can celebrate Christmas all year long if we choose to. There’s no reason for the joy of the Advent to be confined to the Advent season. We can worship God for Jesus’ birth throughout the year. Here are a few ideas for prolonging the Christmas season in your life—and in the lives of others.
For instance, when you celebrate love in its many-splendored forms on Valentine’s Day, include the perfect divine love of God. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
When you observe Good Friday and celebrate Easter, trace the arc from Jesus’ birth to His death and resurrection. Imagine the emotions of Mary, the only human witness to the beginning and end of Jesus’ life. Consider how the suffering of Good Friday casts Jesus’ birth in a different light.
When you observe Memorial Day and commemorate those who gave all for our freedom and security, take some time to consider the sacrifice God made when He sent His Son into the world.
When you celebrate Thanksgiving, talk about what Jesus’ birth—and life—means to you. Express your gratitude to God in prayer and worship.
Spend a week in the heat of summer examining the lyrics to some of your favorite Christmas hymns and songs. Find their biblical origins or Bible passages that illuminate the themes of certain carols. For instance, you might compare the lyric “O tidings of comfort and joy” from “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” with the angel’s actual words to the shepherds in Luke 2:10–11.
Instead of packing away your Christmas boxes, wrapping paper, and ribbons at the end of the holiday season, keep them out. As your finances and circumstances allow throughout the year, purchase gifts for people in need: toys for kids from financially strapped families, gift cards for the homeless, clothes for victims of natural disasters, school supplies for poverty-stricken kids, a well-chosen book for someone who’s struggling. Wrap them like Christmas presents, and give people the opportunity to experience the joy of Christmas morning throughout the year.
The first few people who were made aware of Jesus’ birth responded by rejoicing. They allowed the joy that filled their hearts to spill over into their lives. Luke 2:17–18 says of the shepherds, “Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.” We can follow their example and be ambassadors of Christ’s joy.
The apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians can be a valuable asset here. In it, Paul instructs the Philippian believers repeatedly to embrace joy in their lives. The epistle’s theme is perhaps best summarized in Philippians 4:4: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!”
In 1 Peter 3:15, the apostle Peter urges believers, “Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you.” Hope and joy are closely aligned. Our hope and joy begin with the coming of Jesus.
The Christmas spirit is the spirit of joy. As long as joy endures, Christmas endures.