Domestic Church: The Christmas Presence

I start my Christmas shopping early every year. I thrill in getting ahead of the game and being prepared, trying to be totally finished by the beginning of December. I’ll be honest though, shopping for family and friends months in advance has not made me immune to holiday stress. Annually caught up in celebratory details, it’s easy to be fixed on my to-do list more so than my family and even Christ Himself; if I’m not careful, that is. And so my plan this year is to relish in the joy of Christ’s birth without losing focus on faith. Try the following to maintain your own Christmas presence to God and loved ones.

1) Celebrate Advent! In a society that begins its Christmas push in October, it’s a challenge to hold back on premature celebrations; but observing the liturgical season of Advent with a Jesse Tree or reflecting on the daily Mass readings builds the soulful anticipation for Christmas Day. Nothing helps me appreciate the context and glory of Christ’s coming like exploring salvation history. Imitate your parish’s liturgical decorations in your own domestic church – your house!

2) We Catholics love our novenas and praying one for Christmas is both powerful and moving. Beginning December 16th and ending the 24th, pray a Christmas novena (found on in spiritual preparation for the Holy Birth. Offer your novena for your family or for worldwide reverence for Christ.

3) Plan with good company. Don’t charge ahead deciding menus, gifts, and get-togethers on your own. Ask your spouse for his or her favorite Christmas dish. Ask for your kids’ input on gifts for family and neighbors. Ask your in-laws when they want to celebrate and how. Planning together only fuels the excited anticipation, and getting others involved puts them above any perfect plan in your mind.

4) Celebrate for the sake of Christ instead of the sake of celebration. Christmas is the designated time for cheerful detail and picturesque presentation. While yuletide embellishment stirs eagerness for December 25th, it’s easy to become preoccupied with too many details, making Christ’s birthday a stressful event instead of a joyful feast. If you find an elective task or two is inhibiting your ability to celebrate the Reason for the Season, then consider letting it go. Relaxing will allow you to keep your eyes and soul on Jesus.

5) But if you’re absolutely set on presenting your signature desserts and décor, remember that Christmas spans well beyond one day! The Christmas season begins the afternoon of Christmas Eve and lasts through the Baptism of the Lord, January 11, 2015. One of the biggest stress relievers came when I realized I could make eggnog Christmas Eve and my favorite hot cocoa recipe the following week when it was still Christmas. Whether you’re mailing Christmas cards, decorating, baking or hosting a party, don’t let it end December 26th! Enjoy the entire Christmas season one celebration at a time!

The profound meaning and hope in Christmas calls for more presence than presents. Ask God to reveal the real wonder of Christmas to you, and in doing so, all other celebrations will be rooted in love, peace and good will toward men.

Katie Sciba is the author of She lives in Shreveport with her husband, Andrew, and four children, Liam,Thomas, Peter and Jane.

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