The Christmas spirit is really a mindset. What is that mindset? Do we need a total Christmas makeover? Melissa Spoelstra, author of Total Christmas Makeover, would say we do.
Misplaced Christmas Mindset
It’s Christmastime, but some people may have good reasons for not being in a celebratory mood, says Melissa Spoelstra:
Perhaps they lost a loved one this year, and Christmas marks a time of loss flooded with memories of an absent person at their celebrations. Others may have complicated family or friend situations or might be battling cancer or a serious illness. However, many want to skip Christmas because their lists of things to do are overwhelming. The hype of Christmas requires a lot of work and sometimes isn’t very nourishing to the soul.
While we may know this time of year is about Christ’s birth, our focus, more often than not, gets easily misplaced. The hustle and bustle of Christmas—the cooking, decorating, socializing and shopping—can bring a busyness that can distract us from the real purpose of the season. But by “stripping away the excess,” says Spoelstra, we can rediscover a new enthusiasm for the season and we can “celebrate Christ even through rough seasons of life.”
Resetting Our Mindset: Remembering the “Why”
Remembering the end result is always important in staying focused. Spoelstra’s Total Christmas Makeover: 31 Devotions to Celebrate with Purpose is written to do just that. The devotions are about rituals, relationships, and rest:
Rituals, including special gatherings, particular foods and specific actions, helped God’s people remember His faithfulness.
Relationships were a key part of everything.
Rest was mandated, and stopping ordinary work helped people savor God’s goodness.
Spoelstra emphasizes that “as we think about our Christmas rituals, relationships and time for rest, we can make simple Spirit-led changes that will help us celebrate Jesus and bring realignment to His mission. That is a total Christmas makeover.”
Each reading in Total Christmas Makeover includes Scripture, a devotion, a prayer prompt, and practical application ideas. These could be read and discussed as a family or on an individual basis.
Renewed Mindset: Ask for Presence Instead of Presents
Christmas can be financially beneficial for the economy. But we have to be aware that “marketing targets us and our children to desire bigger, better, faster and more,” Spoelstra warns. “Dialoguing about the tradition of gifts and taking time to include our families in being generous to others help realign us in remembering the greatest gifts usually aren’t bought in a store. People are gifts. Peace, contentment and forgiveness are gifts.” Christ is about relationships. Instead of presents, we must put the emphasis on people:
If we aren’t careful, people can become scenery and machinery. The waitress who brings our coffee. The postal worker who brings the mail. These are real people with real stories. When we break through the reverie of our own to-do lists and start to see them, we can ask questions. We can begin to pray for them. We might even get the opportunity to share about Christ with words or show them Christ with generosity. We want to become “there you are” kind of people rather than “here I am” Christians. This will require us to be intentional in focusing on people rather than tasks during a busy time of year.
Spoelstra is not against giving gifts. After all, the wise men brought gifts to Jesus, she explains. “Giving gifts is a tradition to remind us of our generous God.” We can teach our children to give gifts to others. “It is the best medicine to quell their natural desires to receive. Shopping for a needy family, reading about missionaries and starting traditions of gratitude help us rediscover the joy of giving and receiving.”
Renewed Mindset: Allowing Our Bodies (Mind and Soul) to Find Rest
We need a renewed mindset, and making time to reflect can help us get there. Reflecting on the purpose of the season requires creating space to do so. In the third section of Total Christmas Makeover, Spoelstra focuses on rest:
Biblical celebration always required Sabbath. No regular work was to be done. This has never been as challenging as it is now with email on our phone and notifications galore. To take a true break from ordinary work, it might mean locking up devices or just checking them a little less frequently. Rest isn’t watching more television. It means giving our minds, bodies and souls a chance to stop and leave space to hear from God. True rest produces no work, but it does leave us refreshed and reflective.
Spoelstra’s reflections lead us into the New Year. That’s another reason to enjoy these timeless devotions. “It is during times of rest when we can reflect on what we want to do differently in the future.”
These devotions cover topics such as balance, finding new strength, and preparing to remember God’s gift of Christ throughout the year ahead. You can purchase a copy of Total Christmas Makeover anywhere where books are sold.