Other Husband & Wife Articles

Keep Christ in Christmas, All Year Long

By Danielle Bean

I always feel just a little guilty when, soon after Epiphany, I pack up our Christmas things for another year. The lights, the ornaments, the stockings, and the magnetic wooden Advent calendar all go into plastic storage bins and into the back of a bedroom closet until next December.

I usually console myself with the thought that another Christmas season will be here before I know it, but I pause before putting away the rubber doll Baby Jesus we keep in a manger bed filled with soft yarn under the tree.

How can I put away Baby Jesus?

When my kids sometimes sigh and wish aloud that it “could be Christmas all year long,” I tell them that it can. In fact, we are supposed to keep Christ in Christmas all year long. Of course I’m not talking about a rubber doll, but the real Christ child who comes to us at Christmas. After spending four weeks of Advent preparing our hearts and our homes for Jesus, what do we do with him when he comes?

Christmastime feels good. It’s fun to focus on decorations, parties, giving gifts, and finding new ways of being generous with others. But after the last present is unwrapped and that warm and glowing feeling begins to fade, what do we do with Baby Jesus then? Do we keep him at the center of our hearts and our homes, or do we pack him away with the crocheted snowflakes and singing ceramic snowman?

For the perfect example of how to hold onto Baby Jesus, we need look no further than the very first person who ever held him – the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Though a few months earlier, Mary had visited Elizabeth and publicly praised God's goodness and mercy, at the first Christmas Mary was focused on her own home and family. This is a quieter, more inwardly focused Mary.

“And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).

Mary recognized the important work she was being called to do in her own home and family that first Christmas, and today each of us is called to focus on the same.

The New Year presents an opportunity to set the tone for an entire year in our families by making Christ the center of our hearts. After Epiphany this year, we can put away our Christmas things, but we can plan to keep the spirit of Christmas, too. We can invite Christ into our hearts and our homes not just for a season, but to stay there.

What kinds of gifts might Christ be calling you to give to your marriage this year? What acts of generosity might he inspire in your family? Whatever kind of Christmas we enjoyed this year, the real task of keeping Christ in our hearts begins right here, right now – in the heart of our homes and the midst of our marriages.

Danielle Bean, a mother of eight, is Editorial Director of  Faith & Family. She is writing a series of columns for Fathers for Good that explore the relations between husband and wife