It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

The time when streets are lit with more than just streetlights. When mistletoe is hung everywhere and everything smells of pine. Spirits are high, days are short, the weather is cold, and procrastinators are rushing for last minute presents. Is there a more lovely time to be alive?

Christmas usually feels like the perfect way to end the year. Wrapping up 12 months in a cheerful, colorful, (maybe not so) neat bow just makes sense. With a year like 2020, it feels even more necessary to close out on the high note that is Christmas. 

If 2020 was a cartoon character, it would be the Grinch; unexpectedly stealing the joys, gifts, and frills of the year. I don’t know about you, but I’m not prepared to let this 2020 Grinch steal Christmas, too.

From what I see, everybody is in need of some Christmas cheer. A time to set our eyes on others. To feel comfort and focus on light and hope. But most of all, to have something to celebrate. Something we can all collectively come together (though, in smaller numbers) to rejoice over, knowing we’ve made it through the year and can harness our energy towards really loving one another. 

The reality is this Christmas looks different. We know that gatherings will be small, perhaps even few and far between. Maybe there will be one less seat at the table, or a lot less presents under the tree. Nevertheless, different doesn’t need to mean stolen. In fact, I think this year taught us that the greatest gift of all is simply the gift of presence. 

“Santa Claus is anyone who loves another and seeks to make them happy, who gives himself by thought or word or deed in every gift that he bestows.”
-Edwin Osgood Grover

In a time filled with isolation and social distance, I find myself thankful that a pandemic like this happened in the 21st century. Grateful that FaceTime exists, and we have the luxury of picking up the phone to hear the voice of someone who lives hundreds of miles away. Despite all my introverted tendencies, I discovered just how much I need the presence of others to make me feel sane, even if just through a phone screen. 

My favorite thing about Christmas has always been its focus on others. Just like Kevin’s mother in Home Alone, we will stop at nothing to be together for Christmas. Toys, gadgets, and stocking stuffers don’t mean a thing if there’s no one to share them with.

So, my prayer for you this Christmas is that you offer the gift of presence to those in your life—in whatever way that looks. Be ‘Santa’ for someone. Call a family member you haven’t seen in a while. Leave a batch of cookies on your next-door neighbor’s porch. Then, perhaps the greatest thing that will come out of 2020 won’t be how to properly wear a face mask, but rather a greater appreciation for every single person in our lives. 

May we not let the Grinch steal Christmas. May our hearts grow three sizes for others and may we use our presence to love people to life as 2020 comes to a close.

The ACTS team wishes you a very merry Christmas, happy holidays, and a wonderful new year. 

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