After all, God’s Spirit is alive and well in us all year round if we have faith in Christ. Even after the tree comes down and holiday festivities subside, our hope and joy can remain firm in him.
Taking down the Christmas tree is nowhere near as enjoyable as putting it up. I ponder this every year after the Christmas and New Year’s holidays are over. Whether you are a person who starts taking ornaments down and hauling your tree outside before New Year’s or you let the tree linger well into January (or maybe even till Valentine’s Day is right around the corner), it’s a universal truth that packing up boxes of Christmas decorations and setting a bare tree by the curb is more of a chore than a delight.
We spend so much time anticipating Christmas (the whole season of Advent–which means “coming” is defined by the build-up to the Incarnation). We plan holiday menus, bake holiday treats, attend holiday parties and family gatherings. We decorate and attend tree-lighting ceremonies and Christmas events. Then, abruptly, the holidays are over and we are stuck in the middle of a drab winter season.
But, as Christians, we know that the wonder and joy of what we celebrate at Christmastime continues throughout the year. So, how do we keep the Christmas cheer going once Christmas is over and the tree comes down?
Here are five possible ways that will hopefully inspire you to, as Ebenezer Scrooge says at the end of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, “[H]onour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”
1. Celebrate Epiphany.
The church calendar has a natural flow from the Advent and Christmas season into Epiphany. Epiphany, which is observed on January 6th, is the celebration of Christ’s Incarnation, particularly to the Gentiles (non-Jews). This is seen in the holiday’s focus on the Three Kings, Wise Men, or Magi from the East who came to worship the Christ child and to bring him gifts. Other names for Epiphany are Three Kings Day or even Little Christmas. The eve of Epiphany (January 5th) is also sometimes celebrated as Twelfth Night (which you may know from Shakespeare fame). Some traditional ways of celebrating Epiphany include baking and enjoying King Cakes, dressing up as kings, Epiphany singing, and attending church services. A little research will provide you with various ways you can celebrate this holiday, but most importantly, it’s a wonderful time to reflect on how Jesus accepts people from all nations into his kingdom.
2. Decorate your home in other ways.
Once the Christmas decorations come down, your home may feel somewhat sad and bare. But that doesn’t have to be the case! For example, last year I was eight months pregnant with my son at Christmas, so for my baby shower, we had a winter wonderland theme with lots of snowflakes, blue and silver candles, and blue lights. When I took my Christmas decorations down after New Year’s, I decided to keep these winter decorations up in celebration of my soon-to-be-born baby, but also because they were the perfect transition decorations from Christmas to winter, adding warmth and light to our home. This is just an example, but the possibilities of kinds of winter decor you can add to your home are almost endless. Some bare evergreen boughs without all the glitter and gold of Christmas look very nice in a vase or hung on the wall. A simple internet search or a trip to a craft store is sure to inspire you. Whatever about the winter season brings you most joy, pursue that!
3. Seek out community events after Christmas.
During the Christmas season, we often increase our interest and participation in events in our neighborhoods and cities. We drive through neighborhoods lit up with thousands of Christmas lights, we attend holiday parties and get-togethers, we take our kids to see Santa or to various festivities. Although the Christmas season may be the height of these kinds of events, most communities host activities to do year-round; it may simply take a bit more intentionality to find them. If you are looking for kid-focused events, joining an in-person or virtual parents group is a great way to keep abreast of such events. Often local libraries or businesses also have posters outlining upcoming community events, classes, concerts, and activities. During the holiday season, we seek out and spread Christmas cheer outside our homes, so why not all year round?
4. Enjoy nature–yes, even in winter!
Whether you live in the country, the woods, the desert, the suburbs, or in an urban environment, whether you live in Alaska, Florida, or anywhere in between, there is always a way to enjoy God’s creation. You can plant bulbs that will pop up in spring or even some hardy winter flowers like pansies if you live in a cooler climate. Another enjoyable activity can be planning a garden for spring. It can also be fun to keep track of the wildlife that frequent your yard or porch. My family lives in the middle of a city, but even with our small yard, we see squirrels and a myriad of birds, as well as the occasional raccoon, rabbit, or even deer in the neighborhood. Growing up, my family kept a log of what birds we sighted. This was especially fun as spring began to approach and more birds returned from their winter migration. Let your creativity guide you in how to enjoy the natural world in this season; after all, we are made in the image of our God who let his creativity shine as he designed each flower, tree, and animal.
5. Do something kind for someone else.
We all want our homes to be comfortable and cozy and places where we can enjoy resting, gathering, and spending time with loved ones. Why not help others keep some Christmas cheer in their lives and homes too? Some ways to do this could be to write thoughtful notes and put them in your neighbors’ mailboxes, gift handmade wreaths, or offer to help someone with yard work or shoveling snow. If you do live somewhere where it snows in the winter, a fresh snowfall is a great time to bring some joy to the whole neighborhood by group shoveling efforts, dusting off vehicles, and offering warm mugs of hot cocoa.
Hopefully, these ideas inspired you to stay in the Christmas spirit into January and beyond. After all, God’s Spirit is alive and well in us all year round if we have faith in Christ. Even after the tree comes down and holiday festivities subside, our hope and joy can remain firm in Him.
How are you planning to keep the joy of Christmas in your home and life after the season is over?
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/FTiare
Veronica Olson wrote her first poem at age seven and went on to study English in college, focusing on 18th century literature. When she is not listening to baseball games, enjoying the outdoors, or reading, she can be found mostly in Richmond, VA writing primarily about nature, nostalgia, faith, family, and Jane Austen.