"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given …"
--Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)
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Strands of lights and garlands strung along the city streets reminds us Christmas is upon us.
The thought of the holiday can change our joy to worry as we think about our depleted bank accounts and wonder how we are going to afford the festivities this year.
Softly lit Christmas trees and warm glowing candles can fill our hearts with warm sentiments, only to be dashed while we long for a loved one away from home.
Fighting about the fact that we did it at our house last year and it's someone else's turn and our shop-til-you-drop mentalities can change our focus to embrace the "holy day" season for what it is.
As we dare to shift our focus, we can make the main thing the main thing.
Dec. 1-25 is known as Advent, which means "coming." As the "holy day" approaches, what we celebrate with anticipation is the birth of Jesus Christ, not merely the coming of Christmas Day.
If we keep this in mind, we can view the season with some enthusiasm.
When I was a young girl, I was given an Advent wreath consisting of four candles placed in a ring with red ribbons intertwined with green garland. Each week as Christmas approached, we lit one candle and read some Scriptures verses regarding the birth of Christ.
The Bible book of Luke is a good place to read the facts and events surrounding the blessed day.
Another fun thing I have enjoyed is the use of an Advent calendar. Both adults and children love this.
My favorite depicts a Nativity scene. There are others that display a beautiful winter wonderland. Each calendar has small boxes dating from the 1st to the 25th. As we open each box we receive a surprise picture on the other side.
Opening a box each day can serve as a reminder to stay focused on the reason behind the season.
If you can't afford to buy a calendar, get creative and mark off a square on each box of your traditional one.
As we prepare and plan for our Christmas celebration, the spiritual implications these simple practices provide can make a lasting impact on our hearts.
•Annettee Budzban is a Christian author, speaker, life coach and nurse. She can be contacted by email at Annetteebudzban@aol.com