“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
What man is there who desires life
and loves many days, that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.” ~Psalm 34:8–14 ESV
When I was a child, my favorite part of our family’s holiday celebrations was our Christmas Eve tradition—enjoying a delicious, homemade dinner, driving around to see Christmas lights while listening to carols on the car stereo, then returning home to exchange specially selected gifts. (Only stocking stuffers and presents from Santa Claus made their appearance on Christmas morning.)
As a kid, I lived for those Christmas Eve gifts. Now I’m in it more for the traditional food and drink—the honey-glazed ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, orange-cranberry sauce, pecan pie, and sparkling apple cider, just to name a few favorites.
As an adult, I’m officially hooked on experiencing Christmas with all five senses. I love the smells of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger floating through my kitchen as I’m mulling hot apple cider on the stovetop; the shiny gleam of red, white, and silver place settings on the dining room table; the joyful sounds of Christmas music coming through my living room speakers; and the soft feel of fresh fir needles as I help our children hang ornaments on the tree.
The gift giving and receiving is just extra for us, but to our kids, it’s everything. I remember those feelings of anticipation and euphoria well. There’s a reason we use similes like “slower than Christmas” and “like Christmas morning.” Christmas is the feeling we wait for in our hearts all year long.
Christmastime is our annual commemoration of heaven gracing Earth with its presence. It’s the joy and love and faith and peace on Earth we long for throughout tragedy and grief and fear the rest of the year. It’s the start of Emmanuel, God with us.
This Christmas, I want to praise Jesus with all five senses. I want to find him in the generosity of Santa, in the beauty of the Nutcracker ballet, in the simplicity of sparkling cider and honey-baked ham, in the joy of my daughters’ glee, and in the faithfulness of Advent. I want to see, taste, hear, smell, and touch the goodness of the Lord. I want to be satisfied not by the temporal temptations of the season but by the permanence of God, the Creator of every good thing.
“The proof is in the pudding.” Just as we can tell if something is truly good by tasting it, God knows if our Christmas festivities are truly about praising him or about fulfilling our own greed, gluttony, and materialism. He knows the deepest desires of our hearts, minds, and appetites.
Father, thank you for giving us Christmas. Thank you for Emmanuel, God with us. This holiday season, please help me to seek peace, pursuing it each day. Help me to slow down and praise you instead of hurrying through my checklists. I want to be present and to praise you with all five senses in every celebration of your Son’s birth. Amen.
Scriptures for Reflection
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (Matthew 5:6 ESV)
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” (John 4:13–15 ESV)
Reach for More
Build moments of Sabbath into your festivities this Christmas. Notice God’s goodness at work in every task. Look and listen for him in each moment of celebration. Seek his perfect peace with gratitude for everything he has done and provided for you and your family and friends this year. Share your moments with us on social media using the hashtag #tgtreachformore. We would love to hear from you.
Lauren Flake writes about her journey as a wife, mom to two little girls and Alzheimer’s daughter in her native Austin, Texas, at For the Love of Dixie. Her first book, Where Did My Sweet Grandma Go? was published in 2016. She thrives on green tea, Tex-Mex and all things turquoise.
Photograph © Mira, used with permission