Christmas night. I wonder what your day has been like? Did you drive around this year, or stay home and have everyone come to you? Did the new recipe from the supermarket catalogue work as you hoped?

For me, right now, all is quiet. I am curled up on the lounge with a new book, I have been picking at the leftovers, but really feel no inkling of wanting to eat dinner. I see the glasses that didn’t fit in the last load of the dishwasher, still dotted along the kitchen bench. The kids have finally slowed down. They’re happy to be pottering about after such a busy day.

The “day” itself really began last night when our church was filled to the brim with a colourful and fantastic pantomime, followed by an unplanned stop at the ice creamery. What was I thinking? Today, we had breakfast at home with some presents, then we drove to Grandma’s for lunch, and then to Nana’s for dinner. We saw cousins and aunties and lugged the esky from venue to venue. At the end of all of that celebrating, now I am finally at home again. It’s the first chance I’ve truly had to stop and think about it all.

Was it as much of a blur as it seems?

At my place, Christmas night is often the first night in weeks that there hasn’t been something to do… or bake, or wrap, or write on, or check the details about. The sprint to the end of the school year, the church year, and the work year, make “silent nights” scarce in the leadup to Christmas, so, I try not to hurry on to the next thing – January holidays at the beach. But, try as I might to really grasp the significance of the birth of Jesus, in my current season of life, so much of the busyness is out of my control.

I worry that I haven’t been intentional enough with my children, connecting all of these events and actions to Jesus for them. I surely haven’t read the Nativity story to them as many times as last year. I struggle to explain my rationale behind trying to keep the presents under reign, with the need to just get it done. I feel that sinking feeling when my daughter asks to go to the mall – again? Really? On one hand I feel like maybe this was easier when they were younger. Maybe I am not making a difference in how they see this season?

Is it a blur to them, too?

But when I ask my children, “What is your favourite part of Christmas?”, it’s the outdoor carols we go to every year. (I could hear my son singing the verses of carols this year with gusto!) And when asked the part of Christmas day they all look forward to most, the thing they resoundingly answered encouraged me. It was the moment we take to read the Bible together, under the tree, before we open our presents. It’s that moment of pause that sticks with them… not the blur I feel it might have been in.

From my children’s point of view, all this activity has purpose. They see it building, year-on-year, into a story of belonging and meaning.

After the wrapping paper has settled, scrunched and discarded over the lounge room floor, I can take as long as I need to marvel at the wonder of the birth of Jesus for myself. I can read my favourite Christmas texts, ponder the lyrics of carols, and sit with my own amazement to be part of the family of Jesus. There is no post event anti-climax here. Jesus now dwells amongst us and this fresh reminder of His purpose is crystal clear. And, as the holiday week unravels, there is plenty of time to let it wash over me.

May you join me in focussing on Jesus, beyond the lead-up to His birth. May you take every moment you can to prepare to live, for Him, an intentional life in 2020.