How to have a Mary Christmas

How is always the hardest part for me.  What and why are simple enough, but how is a different story.

Where do you start when what you want to do calls for stillness, silence, and sitting?

I don’t know how to turn on a switch and be still.  If I manage to sit down, my mind is inevitably whirring with activity.

I’m realizing that having a Mary Christmas isn’t accomplished through action steps, even if the actions are stillness, silence, and sitting.  A Mary Christmas comes by choice – a choice to slow down and focus my mind.

When I make space to dwell on the season, I’m forced to slow down. I can’t hurry past my Savior when meditating on the joy, peace, glory, and wonder surrounding His earthly beginning. Slowing down is a non-negotiable when my soul is frozen in awe.

The how becomes inextricable from a heart meditating on Jesus. I take cues from the heart of other key players in the humbling narrative of Christ’s birth.

Sing with Mary:

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.

His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.

{Luke 1:46-47,50}


Praise God with the heavenly hosts:

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!

{Luke 2:14}

Rejoice with Simeon:

For my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.

{Luke 2:30-32}

Let our Savior inspire stillness with joy, with awe, with wonder. Let praise and glory bloom in the silence of your heart.


My aunt shared these thoughts with me recently:

Someone once said something to the effect: the words don’t have to be spelled right, don’t have to be perfectly written to be beautiful. So it is with Christmas. The house does not need to be perfectly decked nor the presents perfectly wrapped. The most perfect of “home”  has already been set. The stable – no bells, whistles, decorations, fancy wrapped gifts – just God’s perfect plan. 

God’s perfect plan for Christmas is not perfection. A Mary Christmas follows His example of simplicity and a heart swelling with our Savior.

How will you celebrate a Mary Christmas?


Why have a Mary Christmas?

Martha is the pesky option on multiple choice tests that is meant to distract you from the correct answer.  It seems viable, but misses the mark ever so slightly.  Martha is a deceivingly good option and is, in many ways, the right choice, just not the BEST answer.

Martha’s approach isn’t wrong, but her priorities are off.  Her service isn’t bad, but Mary’s stillness is better.

Why is sitting and silence the better way?  Why is it important to try for a Mary Christmas in a Martha season?

I discovered an answer in a commonly practiced holiday activity – decorating the Christmas tree, which Tim and I did yesterday.

Our Christmas tree extravaganza involved mucking around the National Forest with a chainsaw, seven strands of colored lights (plus one white strand, because two trips to Lowe’s in an hour is quite enough), and evenly dispersing ornaments throughout our large, but decidedly Charlie Brown-esque, tree.

During the process, which was spread over a couple days due to scheduling conflicts and sickness, I was reminded why I let my mom and brother handle the lights.  Now that it’s just Tim and I, lights are a troublesome catch 22: I either forfeit control and let Tim do it, or do it myself and be displeased with the less than perfect results…

Beyond my OCD tendencies with the lights, putting up the Christmas tree is one of my favorite traditions.  I enjoy picking out the best Noble Fir, untangling the copious strands of lights (my job since I don’t string them), and hanging all our family ornaments.

My absolute favorite part of the Christmas tree experience is when the tree is all decorated and someone turns off the lights – nothing is glowing but the tree.  We stand back in silence, admiring the beautiful scene.

Red, blue, green, pink, and orange glow softly, glistening off metal and glass hidden in the fragrant boughs.  I inevitably sit for hours gazing at the tree, letting my eyes rest on each ornament, my sight fixed on one memory after another.

The work of setting up the tree sometimes distracts me from truly appreciating all of the beauty and memories that have been created and will be created.  It is only when I sit and gaze a while that I fully absorb what each ornament means to my heart and my history.

A decorated tree takes work and the work is good.  Enjoying the tree requires time – time to sit still and look, see and remember.

The bustling and busyness of a Martha Christmas can be fun and enjoyable, but it is only when we choose a Mary Christmas that we intentionally slow down and can fully rejoice in the gifts from God that are celebrated during this season.