Christmas looks a little different when you find yourself far from home and the traditions you grew up with.
From the time we were too little to do anything but gasp and excitedly point out the window, my parents drove me and my brothers around the town looking at Christmas lights. As we grew older the tradition continued. We would all put on pajamas and drive around, searching for the most decorated neighborhood or brightly lit house.
I remember one Christmas years ago when my parents took on the role of Secret Santa. Mom would bake cookies and package them up nicely and Dad would drive us to the pre-selected house. I watched in the backseat night after night as they would leave the different presents at the doorstep, ring the doorbell, and then drive quickly away.
Whether celebrating by looking at lights or by leaving gifts, we did it as a family.
Something that seems so worldly and shines brightly of consumerism was about something much more holy – celebrating the season together by making memories and being generous whether anyone found out or not.
For the third year in a row, things will look a little bit different. While the tree goes up, the lights are hung and the house smells of a new delicious treat every day, I’ll be states away celebrating apart from my family.
For college students and young adults, it isn’t always possible to be home for the holidays. I never anticipated how difficult it would be or how lonely I would feel missing out on traditions, but I’ve learned that the holiness of Christmas isn’t confined to one location.
What makes Christmas holy is the One who came to Earth to save mankind, not counting the cost nor forsaking the cross.
I can celebrate that truth no matter where I am or who is around me.
Last year a friend and I grabbed a holiday drink from Starbucks and then rode around our college town looking at all the Christmas lights. With the heat on we explored neighborhoods while singing along to every Christmas song on the radio.
This season I’ve already made plans to attend a Christmas parade and then deliver cookies to local firefighters.
You could say I’m reinventing traditions, but I’m simply carrying on my parents legacy and refusing to take the holy out of the holiday.
I’ll be back home for Christmas Eve service and to celebrate on Christmas morning with my family, but there’s no need to wait to celebrate.
Christmas is about so much more than picking out the right gift, finding new ways to gift-wrap presents (thank you, Pinterest), or trying out new recipes. It’s fun to sing Christmas songs and decorate the tree, but at the end of the day there is no Christmas without Christ.
He is the reason we celebrate.
If we focus on the to-do list or the to-buy list or the traditions we feel like we’re missing out on, we miss it all.
As cliché as it is, He is the reason for the season.
So hang up the mistletoe, decorate cookies and sing at the top of your lungs whether you’re with family or creating new traditions on your own.
No matter where you find yourself this season, He is constant.
He is the reason the holiday is holy.
Wherever you celebrate this season, you are home for the holidays.
Merry Christmas from all of us at More to Be!