Encouragement and a Call to Arms for the Keepers of Christmas
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A Call to the Keepers of Christmas: Embrace Your Gifting

11/24/2023 02:53:03 +0000
Creatives and creators are the keepers of Christmas and the holiday season. Afterall, the original Christmas story is one of such wild creativity and unexpected beauty, it can only be described as Carol, my mentor, often said to me, "Truth is stranger than fiction." The original Christmas story is all about letting go and giving the greatest gift, one's child.

Many of the beloved traditions developed through the centuries and in many different countries around the world are the result of creative men and women using their gifts and skills to bring much needed beauty and celebration to the world.

And so I argue, Christmas is best stewarded, cared for, by the creatives. Not to hold onto selfishly, as a gift to ourselves, but to steward, to share, to spread. As a creative, we are gifted and responsible for carefully shining the light of the holiday season and inviting others in to experience it.

However, before we dive into the "how" we steward our gifts and callings during this incredible season, we must start with a foundational question.
Why Bother With Christmas Outside Our Personal Lives?
More and more I run into people who want to retreat from Christmas and all associated activities as the shift of the calendar turns from fall to the official "holiday season." It is difficult to ignore the increasing cynicism. I think of Charlie Brown in the 1950's bemoaning the "commercialization of Christmas." What would he think now?

Add the rise of general cynicism, commercialism, and increased division among so many with the diminished reverence for Christmas  – do any of us wonder why it's harder to rally our festive spirits, not only for ourselves and immediate families, but for the larger community?

And yet, at their deepest level, the holidays are restorative, a place and time to experience grace and peace.

Not the kind of restoration associated in our modern society with spa days and "me time" that goes skin deep (pardon the pun), but restoration where we all need it most, at the core level of spirit, soul, mind, and heart.

We, as creatives, can't restore the broken hearts and minds and circumstances of people's lives. The kind of healing and hope and life that comes with true restoration is a journey an individual must initiate on his or her own.
But we can be lights to guide others into the presence where restoration starts, places of rest and joy to encourage and strengthen those that are weary and have lost their vision and heart.

You and I both understand the resistance regarding the holidays: the endless activity, more and more and more to do and spend ourselves on. It feels as if we are wringing ourselves out during the holiday season in our bank accounts and our calendars. Between November and the end of December it's a fight to not let go of healthy practices: exercise, rhythms of rest and worship, community practices. No wonder so many are growing to be somewhat (quietly) resentful of the holidays, let alone withdrawing all together!
Women in general, and creative women in particular, are the keepers of Christmas. There are a few men who also love the holidays and "make the holidays happen," but by and large this realm is largely women's.
Women are distinctly gifted for relationship and influence with gifts of natural nurturing and creating beauty; it is part of our femininity and womanhood in the most beautiful sense. In a culture that is attempting to blur the lines between men and women, it's important to hold on with fervor our distinctiveness in this realm. Something terribly precious is lost when we give this up.

Many of us who create and love the holidays, who are the "keepers of Christmas" need to re-embrace our giftings and callings.
Life Has the Annoying Habit of Getting In the Way of Our Callings & Giftings
Perhaps your life doesn't look at all what you thought it would. The dismal current outcomes have caused a retreat from fully participating in the season. Perhaps your own family is grown and gone or there's been abandoned, loss and endless heartache.

Or, perhaps the resistance to our calling as a keeper of Christmas is weariness. The last several years have left many fatigued with all that is going on. Personal battles, confusion, divisions, conflicts and chaos inside our hearts, families, communities and country.
We (creatives) too, are tempted to put away our paintbrushes, DIY gift making, Christmas cards, baking sheets, and plans for the Christmas gathering. Or instead of a full retreat, we choose to do a bit ourselves but not invite others into it. So much work. So little return. I know this feeling.
But it must be resisted.

We need to not only embrace the holiday season, but draw others in too. Maybe your capacity is one person or a few or many - the amount doesn't matter. What does matter is that we invite others into the grace and celebration of the season, to allow them to be touched by the hope, and dare I say, glory that is Christmas. God will multiply our efforts in the way He desires to.

What if there is a way to celebrate AND that "way" doesn't demand some sort of massive overhaul of our patterns, traditions, and practices?

I think there is. I'm wrestling and working it out in my own heart and mind and life. We need a rekindling of our own hearts, a renewed plan and sense of gumption with a vision for the important work that is part of being a keeper of Christmas.
The Restorative Power of Creating
Creativity and beauty are intertwined, almost impossibly so. Both of these characteristics have healing properties. John Eldredge, in his books, Resilient and Take Your Life Back writes about the importance of exposing ourselves to beauty on a regular basis. Others have written about the power of beauty from an academic standpoint.

Doing something with our hands quiets the mind. Creating actual things in the physical world impacts the heart and mind in a world obsessed with living more and more in the digital space. Technology has had many beneficial impacts, but there is also a cost.
Every Person Is Created to Create, Not Only Consume
We need to consume and consuming is good. But it doesn't take a rocket scientist or extensive data collection to realize we live in a society that puts an insane emphasis on consuming and a de-emphasis on creating.

The impact is staggering.

I could write a short novel on the negative influence of fast, easy, no effort living (but it has been done by smarter and more researched people than I). You already know this though.

Instead, let me stir up the quiet, yet potent influence of living in the real world during the holidays. Recall who and what influenced your holidays as a child or young person. Let your younger self walk back into the room, the laughter, the joy of helping create Christmas through baking gingerbread men and pulling out the nativity. Recall the sense of connection and community as your participated in the traditions of the season, the sense of closeness to you Grandma while baking cookies together. Did you sense a renewed wonder and sense of awareness of Jesus as you set up the nativity and cradled each figure in your hands?
Maybe the joy of Christmas came later in life as you were able to create what you'd dreamed and hoped for as a young person, but didn't receive.
We all have different points in our lives where Christmas came alive in us.
I recall leaning across the counter on the bar stool across from my mom, my chubby fingers pushing cookie cutters through soft sugar cookie dough. I hear Amy Grant and Sandi Patty Christmas albums playing and my brothers screeching through the house. The kittens hide under the tree. We go to Grandpa and Grandma's home, flooded with cousins and family members. Grandma's infamous date pudding and two pumpkin pies hide on the washing machine. I always went and stole a peek, just to make sure the traditional holiday desserts were made!

Growing up, others invited me into their holiday celebrations.
Carol pulled me into her home and her heart. Her home was a vision of Christ's birth with decorations (she especially loved angels) in every corner along with multiple nativity scenes and Italian Christmas desserts. I remember Shirley hosting her annual Christmas lunch for our writing year for decades. The people in the group shifted, but Shirley consistently had that gathering, loving us and welcoming us into her home and sending us out with ideas and a renewed vision to create Christmas gatherings with intention.
Embrace Your Calling As a Keeper of Christmas
There is something important about that kind of resourcefulness and creativity that is being lost in our generation today. We are literally losing the "taste" for hospitality and holiday gatherings founded on love and hope and joy, not those reading this article, but many people in our circles.

Celebrating Christmas can help restore hearts and homes.

This is the first in three articles I'm writing for the Keepers of Christmas. My goal for this article is to stir up in all of us a renewed sense of desire and energy for our gifting and calling as a keeper of Christmas, a steward of this most precious holiday.

If weariness is a constant in your life right now, I want to help you shake that off and re-embrace your calling and gifting as a keeper of Christmas.
The second article is about "how" we embrace our stewardship in this area. We replenish internally first, then move outward.

The third article is all about that shift outward to unleashing our giftings in a way that is restorative, helpful, and beautiful. There is a way to celebrate without going into a post-holiday hangover (I know about this all too well!)
I look forward to sharing these with you. And if you have thoughts you'd like to share, please email me at [email protected]
You can also message me on InstaGram.
Author: Melissa AuClair

Hi, I'm Melissa! I'm a floral artist and the author of "Don't Let Christmas Kill You: A Woman's Guide".

I teach art and creative workshops to help women create space & beauty in their lives by discovering time for fun & relaxing creating, especially during the holidays.

Shop my products here or take a creative workshop with me. I'd love to paint and create with you.

California, United States
The Creative Season © 2021

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