how to have a merry christmas

5 Things You Don’t Need This Christmas

Christmastime brings with it many memories for all of us. I can remember what stood out to me as a child—the excitement of being with friends and family, the anticipation of receiving gifts, and the cheerful, nostalgic music. For a short time every year, there’s magic in the air. And I used to think that to create and to feel that magic is how to have a merry Christmas.

But for many people, Christmas can be a difficult time. It can be a letdown for people who stake their happiness on how the holiday goes. If we’re not careful, we will miss what matters most about Christmas by focusing on what matters least. Everyone wants to have a merry Christmas, but here are 5 things you don’t need in order to have one.

If we’re not careful, we will miss what matters most about Christmas by focusing on what matters least.

1. Perfect Circumstances

Yes, this would be nice, but in reality, it’s unlikely to happen. Family issues, conflicting personalities, and crazy uncles don’t take time off simply because it’s Christmas. In fact, the very first Christmas took place with some of the most imperfect circumstances possible. Remember, the Savior of the world was born in a stable. God gave us His greatest gift in a way most of us wouldn’t call ideal. This Christmas, don’t let your circumstances govern your happiness.

2. Elaborate Decorations

One of the best Christmas stories ever is A Charlie Brown Christmas. A small stick of a tree, a couple of lights, and a few friends was all Charlie Brown needed to have a merry Christmas. While there’s nothing wrong with decorating for the season, it’s good to be reminded not to put too much emphasis on the things that don’t actually make or break the holiday, like the decor.

3. Fancy Food

I love Christmas dinner. Turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, and pies—lots and lots of pies. Fancy food easily can become the focus of our Christmas traditions, maybe even an idol. But could we still have a merry Christmas without it? Yes.

4. Expensive Gifts

Who doesn’t like giving and receiving gifts during Christmastime? But have we put so much stock into gift-giving that we’ve come to believe it’s what makes Christmas special? Our family took a missions trip to Grenada this past year and we learned that while the kids there celebrate Christmas, they don’t get any presents, nor do they think they are supposed to. Their perspective is a far cry from the sense of entitlement that many children have in America. The kids in Grenada don’t need expensive gifts to have a merry Christmas. And neither do we.

5. Hallmark Movie Moments

Have our ideas surrounding Christmas and what it is supposed to look and feel like been shaped by reality or have they been shaped by Hollywood? While Hallmark Christmas movies are emotional and enjoyable (sometimes), they’re not always a real reflection of what this time of year truly looks like. I love what Roy L. Smith said: “He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.”

As we look forward to Christmas, let’s not ask it to do something it can’t do: bring us joy. What we really need in order to have a merry Christmas is contentment in knowing the person Christmas is all about, in giving our time and ourselves to the ones we love, and in making lifelong memories that will outlast any gift or decoration. That’s what really matters.

Sound off: What makes Christmas merry for you?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What is the true meaning of Christmas?”