by Emily Conrad

Now that Christmas is over, what are we left with?

I’m writing this on December 23rd. My Christmas tree glows next to me and my wintery table cloth sparkles beneath my laptop. The presents sit, neatly wrapped under the tree. An uncharacteristic variety of goodies sit in my kitchen—sugar cookies, caramels, marshmallows, all homemade.

But by the time you read this, I’ll be strategizing about how to best dismantle the tree without overlooking a stray ornament. I’ll be debating over whether or not the tablecloth should stay until New Years’ Day. The presents will be unwrapped and aging. The treats will be vanishing.

What part of my celebrations lasts? What morsel of Christmas will power you through the next year? Does anything we just spent all that time and money on still matter?

If looking back forces us to confess lasting meaning’s scarcity, there is hope.

If you’re one who can look back on your gifts and action and see lasting meaning, well done! But you’re job isn’t done yet, either.

As followers of Christ, we’re called to carry the Christmas spirit every day, through every season, on every holiday and every routine Monday through Friday, every weekend.

Here are three challenges I want to take from Christmas and apply to my life year-round. Care to join me?

Generosity—dare I say, sacrificial giving—ought to be a regular part of our lives. The unemployed still wonder how to scrape together rent. The missionaries still rely on provision to continue their work. The hungry must still be fed.

The requests for special Christmas offerings and the bell ringers may have vanished with the passing of December 25th, but needs still abound, and when we don’t have the financial strain of gift-giving traditions looming so large, we’re in an even better position to meet those needs.

Family, community and relationships take effort, but we’ll miss out on so much if we wait until Christmas comes again to reach out. A happy introvert, I sometimes fail at maintaining friendships.  My best friendships tend to be with those who stay after me about getting in touch and spending time, and it’s a blessing I sometimes fail to pay forward by pursuing relationships with those I care about. The biggest miss this year? I received a newsletter from a friend, forwarded from the address we moved out of back in May. Though I know she doesn’t get on social media much to see the updates about moving, I’d never informed her of this big life event, and even worse, this is a local friend I could get in touch with so easily.

Family may have gone back home, and we may be taking down the Christmas newsletters from friends, but those relationships must still be maintained. Since my December calendar sometimes gets jam-packed, this is another area where I’m in a good position to follow through as my schedule returns to normal.

Meaningful discussions about the Good News are fitting any time of year. We no longer have the easy option of saying “Merry Christmas” to let people know what we believe, but how effective was that at sharing the Good News anyway?

Yes, maybe people are a little more receptive to hearing about Jesus when Christmas rolls around, but the reasons we need Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection fill our lives every single day. People I care about are hurting and looking for answers. Maybe not consciously every day, but as I invest in them, I generally find the time will come when we’ll end up naturally discussing Christ and when that happens, I’ve found people pretty open to listening and discussing any time.

We worship a God whose mercies are new not just on Christmas morning, but every morning.

As His people, we, too, should be representatives of peace and joy and love and reconciliation with God through Christ not just on Christmas, but every day of the year.

What aspect of Christmas can you practice, even though the holiday is past?

#Christmas isn’t over yet: 3 ways for Christians to celebrate all year round via @emilyrconrad