The Ponder Effect | Are we remembering Christmas as we forge ahead with the new year?
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Are we remembering Christmas as we forge ahead with the new year?

It’s hard to believe that Christmas was only two weeks ago. The decorations have been taken down, the trees hauled off, the wreaths stored in boxes. All evidence of Christmas is now in the attic.

I feel like we jump ship so fast. What was a rich spiritual season—even for those who don’t know if they believe—is now an intensely secular one. We greet the new year with intentions that no doubt serve us well, like changing our diets and limiting our alcohol intake, but we often fail to ponder the meaning of what has just come and how we can actively carry it forward.

I had written a post for today with the question What now? It was about setting a specific goal this week to help us execute on the intentions we pondered last week. That would be a good thing to do. But shouldn’t we also make sure that our intentions for the new year include retaining a sense of the joy and wonder of the season we just celebrated with such vigor?

As such, we might ask ourselves: Are we (still) in awe of the whole incredible story—the angel, the star, the newborn King—and its implication for all humanity? Do we even believe it? What is behind the Yes, No, or Sort Of that is our answer to that question? Ultimately, what role does Christmas play in our life outside of Christmas, and what role would we like it to play?

Share your thoughts [All posts are 100% anonymous]

9 Ponderings
  • Anonymous

    January 8, 2018 at 2:11 am

    Sort of: I want to forget the materialism (” what did you get for Christmas?”) and the pressure (“why didn’t you send out a thick glossy professionally photographed and calligraphic card this year?”) and the race to get it all done in time (did you see the lines in Target on December 24th? Sadly, I did.) But I hope to remember the wonder of my children’s eyes as they counted and hung all of my childhood silver bells, the appreciation on my Mother in Law’s face as she happily squeezed into a church pew containing her husband, all three of her children, their spouses, and her eight grandchildren. I want to remember the joy I felt knowing my husband spent a lot of time picking out the special gift that proves he really GETS me, the love I felt in the big loud full farm house on Christmas Day. The warmth of family, the gift of time together, the words my kids wrote on little notes in my stocking, the traditions that hold strong. This is the good stuff!!!! These are the things that let me know I am safe in God’s presence.

  • Anonymous

    January 8, 2018 at 3:36 am

    When the Song of the Angels is Stilled

    When the song of the angels is stilled
    When the star in the sky is gone,
    When the kings and princes are home,
    When the shepherds are back with the flocks,
    Then the work of Christmas begins:
    To find the lost,
    To heal those broken in spirit,
    To feed the hungry
    To release the oppressed
    To rebuild the nations,
    To bring peace among all peoples,
    To make music in the heart.

    by Howard Thurman (1899-1981), African-American author, philosopher, theologian, educator, and civil rights leader.

  • Anonymous

    January 8, 2018 at 12:34 pm

    I want to cultivate a sense of Christmas joy when I am gifted another day of this wild and precious life each morning.
    I want to extend a sense of Christmas cheer to friends and strangers when I go about each day.
    I want to hold on to the hope of Christmas in what seem like the darkest, weariest times.
    And be on the lookout for angels who tell me to not be afraid.

  • Anonymous

    January 8, 2018 at 4:41 pm

    Sort Of: Christmas is such a whirlwind. My husband and I were just talking about how nice it would be if it didn’t happen until the end of January. It’s a beautiful whirlwind but even thinking about the season gets my blood pressure high. I want to find a way to live in the joy of family, of grace, of love every week but try to incorporate some of this beautiful peace of January/February into next year’s Christmas season.

  • Varina Willse

    January 8, 2018 at 7:39 pm

    Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
    The flying cloud, the frosty light;
    The year is dying in the night;
    Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

    Ring out the old, ring in the new,
    Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
    The year is going, let him go;
    Ring out the false, ring in the true.

    Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
    For those that here we see no more,
    Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
    Ring in redress to all mankind.

    Ring out a slowly dying cause,
    And ancient forms of party strife;
    Ring in the nobler modes of life,
    With sweeter manners, purer laws.

    Ring out the want, the care the sin,
    The faithless coldness of the times;
    Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
    But ring the fuller minstrel in.

    Ring out false pride in place and blood,
    The civic slander and the spite;
    Ring in the love of truth and right,
    Ring in the common love of good.

    Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
    Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
    Ring out the thousand wars of old,
    Ring in the thousand years of peace.

    Ring in the valiant man and free,
    The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
    Ring out the darkness of the land,
    Ring in the Christ that is to be.


    -Alfred Lord Tennyson

  • Anonymous

    January 9, 2018 at 2:44 pm

    So If you came to my house you might laugh because we still have a Blow up Santa on the roof of our porch still up and our wreath is still hanging On our front door!!! The blow up was something the kids had been wanting for so
    Long and this year -we were like sure- let’s get one!! It was always a happy spot when you drove down our street or driveway— neighbors even stopped to say how it made them smile every time they saw it and how much they would hate to see it go!! Well— he’s still there and he’s still making people smile and that makes us happy!! And we just aren’t in a hurry To put up Happy!!!
    I think our society has gotten in the mindset that everything has to be put away immediately after the last Family brunch and that everything that was decorated on the outside- on our doors- in our homes—-presents- has to be quickly swept up and back to the way it was before Christmas even came through our doors!! I think that is where we start to lose the Joy because it. Is as though it can’t linger around. To remind us of the Happy- of the little moments of Christmas Joy! I enjoy little
    piles of my daughter and my boys that I look at for a few days after Christmas of art pencils and slime kits, lacrosse balls, and fishing and hunting gear— little peeks into their life’s passions—- I watch them rummage through amd. pick what they might play with during the lazy days of the remaining Christmas Break!! Those are sweet moments-
    But Mostly— I believe in really preparing for Christmas – we prepare our hearts and make the Space for the Love of Baby Jesus – for the Hope- for the Joy- for the Light the season brings!! And if we are doing that —then when all the gifts are put away- the wreaths -the wooden reindeer — the Santa(at some point) so much remains!! And that is how we keep Christmas with us all year long!!!
    A quote I love about Christmas-
    “Whenever We Give
    Whenever We Love
    It’s Christmas”!!!!
    PS- I’ve just heard “Hark The Herald Angels Sing”
    Coming from my Daughters room— we all have our little ways of keeping Christmas with us!❤️

  • Anonymous

    January 9, 2018 at 4:48 pm

    When I first read this question my reaction was like getting punched in the stomach. I even think I may have literally gasped. Because I felt like I had not even thought of continuing Christmas, Christ’s Christmas. And worse I had no idea how to.
    But! These posts are beautiful.! They have helped me. Helped me see the glimmer of Christmas in some of my own thoughts for how I wanted to live my crazy, precious life. I do find myself still struggling with this question though. With how to keep “Christ” in front of me as these days unfold in this next year. Christ, the miracle birth. Christ, the teacher. Christ, who died, died! for me, and you, for all of us. Christ, who came back alive! Christ who wants us to believe in him and trust him and know him. I have a hard time believing it all much less knowing how to keep it in front of me. Maybe I have misinterpreted the question, jumping ahead to Easter. No matter. I am so glad I have read this post! I’m thinking the answer or some of the answer lies in what you all are saying. That we keep Christmas going by trying to be Christlike. “Impossible!” my mind is screaming. But my heart is saying “But so worth trying!” And I think that is really what you all are saying. Thank you!

  • Anonymous

    January 12, 2018 at 12:41 am

    I think I find the cruelty of the crucifixion and the strength of His rising so much easier to believe than the tenderness of a baby’s birth, the hope of that. Somewhere lost in the Christmas season is that the joy of His birth is ALSO the joy of His death and rising … for US. Which makes the Christmas season something that can and should renew our hope in every season as the liturgical calendar goes. So when I read this question, I thought, “Do I bring hope with me into this new year? Do I bring joy?” Not always, not every day, but to think of the constancy of hope and joy from a Christian perspective, and to note that scripture repeatedly reminds us to live in hope and believe in the unexpected miracles of Jesus’s time and, by extension, our own, is helpful for me. Speaking of the unexpected, I think that we often work to control our lives and that when something unexpected comes our way the normal reaction is to resist it. But Christmas teaches us that some of the best gifts are those we didn’t expect to receive, but, in retrospect were just what we wanted or needed. Difficult things are harder to process, of course, but every day problems can actually be unexpected gifts that teach us what we most need to know about ourselves, our children, etc.

  • Anonymous

    January 12, 2018 at 2:28 pm

    Simply put , giving feels amazing! I could always use a reminder to do more of that everyday throughout the year. Give the things that I tend to hold back. Give with an attitude of gratitude for the fact that I have something to give at all.