Raise your hand if you’re sick of words like “new normal” or “unprecedented.” For most of us, 2021 has been just as crazy and unexpected as 2020. I’ve always loved celebrating Christmas, but now it’s just another reminder of how much things have changed. Before 2020, the Christmas season was filled with fun gatherings like Friendsmas, caroling, holiday parties, a Christmas service, and so much more! But now, those days are a distant memory from a different life.
So how do we overcome our frustration at another year of the “new normal”? I’ve found that the Christmas story has given me hope in this unplanned season.
An Unplanned Christmas
Speaking of unplanned, I’m especially confident Mary didn’t plan to give birth to a child—much less the Son of God! She was engaged to be married to Joseph, which is overwhelming enough but to get pregnant before she was married? But Mary was a faithful woman, and although God’s plan didn’t align with what she expected, she trusted Him anyway.
In fact, the angel Gabriel appeared and forever changed the course of Mary’s life with these words:
“Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. … his kingdom will never end. … The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God … For no word from God will ever fail” Luke 1:30-33, 35, 37 NIV
Mary didn’t have all the details. She didn’t yet know the trials she would endure, but she trusted God’s promises.
Celebrating in a New Way
Like Mary, we can choose to remain faithful. We can choose to seize this moment as an opportunity to grow stronger in faith and closer in relationship to the One who we celebrate at Christmas. Without so much hustle and bustle, we can stop feeling so busy and overbooked with all the holiday parties and functions and start taking time to remember who Jesus is and why He is the source of our hope.
We can rest assured that even though how we celebrate Christmas may look different now, the reason we celebrate remains the same. Our Savior was born, and because of that, we get to have life, not just here on earth, but eternally with our God and King! Now that’s a gift worth celebrating.
Here are some ideas to find new ways of celebrating Christmas:
- Do a Christmas YouVersion Bible Plan with your friends, spouse, or kids.
- Read not one but both stories of the birth of Jesus and discuss the different perspectives with your friends or family. (Matthew 1-2 and Luke 2)
- Start a gratitude journal. Each day, write about one thing you are grateful to God for in this season.
- Turn the lights off, light some candles (or use a flashlight), play Silent Night, and sing together like you would in a candlelight service.
- Attend a Christmas service, or watch a Christmas service at Church Online.
- Practice your wise men skills and gift someone with something special. You can even drop it off on a friend’s porch this season. Being socially distanced doesn’t have to stop us from being irrationally generous!
- Throw Jesus a birthday party! You may not have a reason to make a feast this year with smaller gatherings, so maybe opt for pizza and cupcakes, or make Jesus a birthday cake and sing happy birthday to celebrate Christmas instead.
- Pray. With all of the extra stillness, use that time to pause and be with God. No matter what is on your heart, share it with Him. He cares, He listens, and He longs to hear from you every day.
No matter how you celebrate, remember who we’re celebrating. And when we do that, celebrating Christmas will be the joyful reminder we all need.