Are you prepared for Christmas? Preparing for Christmas takes a lot of time and work. Hopefully, you find some joy in the preparation. Maybe you decorate or bake with family or friends, building relationships. Maybe you host that Christmas party that everyone looks forward to and you bring joy to those around you. Yet, l have a burning question to ask:

Do you spend as much time preparing yourself?

Are you prepared to interact with family members and loved ones? Truth be told, you probably will interact with some you may not love very well. Relationships take time and work and we need to be prepared. Are you ready to be fully present and engaged with those around you during this season? Can you choose to bring your presence to the gathering? The decorations will come down and the food will be eaten.

When the presents are unwrapped, will your family and friends remember your presents or your presence?

Here are 4 suggestions for preparing to be present:

  1. Expect the unexpected. Know that life is messy. Your ideals of the gathering may not be met. It’s okay. Put aside the differences. You have family members that are time-conscious and others who are not at all aware of time. Some may be living out choices that hurt or divide. You cannot fix it all today, nor should you. Relax in the brokenness of life, as hard as it is.
  2. Let go of the distractions. Put your phone down. The dishes can wait (or do them together). Forget about checking the football scores. Snapchatting the moment is not necessary. Instead of thinking about when you’re leaving to get to the next things, see the people around you and engage in conversation. (Need help with that? Download my free PDF here.)
  3. Actively listen. Sometimes we don’t even realize how much we love to hear ourselves talk. Can you hear what those around you are telling you today? Can you ask good follow-up questions and truly hear their hurts and their joys? Try repeating back to them what you hear them saying and making good eye contact to communicate you hear them.
  4. Love. Above all else, choose love! Love is patient and kind. It is not arrogant or rude, not boastful nor selfish. Love may not naturally occur when the unexpected happens, but you can choose to love.

The true meaning of Christmas is the coming of a long-awaited Savior. It wasn’t an expected coming, however. It did not have royal fanfare. It was quite ordinary and yet extraordinary all at the same time. The Savior was born in a dirty stable as a baby and rested in a feeding trough. That was Emmanuel, which means “God with us.”

God sent his Son to be present with us! The holy, almighty, untouchable God sent us a Savior to be among us in the ordinary day-to-day life. This is what we celebrate at Christmas. While presents are very meaningful, the best gift you can give is the very gift that God gave—His presence!

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