How to Extend Your Christmas Holiday

Raise your hand if your Christmas holiday went too fast. You can’t see me, but I’m raising my hand. My Christmas holiday went far too fast. It always does. Our son, Ben, came home the Saturday and left the day after Christmas. While he was here he got engaged to his girlfriend, Emily, who had also flown in for a couple of days. Her family surprised her by flying into Orlando the night they were engaged. My parents came in the day after Christmas. In the midst of it all our daughter, Ashlyn, and her husband, Josh, were at our home Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach, San Diego, CA

For weeks we had anticipated this time together with our family. More than that, we had anticipated everything the entire Christmas holiday stands for. Advent worship services prepared us. Devotional time got us ready. We did our shopping (mostly online) for Christmas gifts. We had a party. We cooked and baked things that we seem to have only this time of year.

We didn’t want it to end. But now Ben and Emily have gone back to Nashville. Most of the food and baked goods have been eaten. Wednesday Advent services are finished for another year. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, when we sang, “Glory to the newborn King,” are but memories that will linger for a long, long time. The gifts are opened. Some have already been returned. People in our neighborhood are inexplicably taking down their outdoor lights.

Now it’s all over.

Or is it? Though it may seem the the Christmas holiday is over, there are certainly ways to make sure that it is extended. I’m not delusional enough to say that the “Christmas spirit” can last the whole year. But it can most certainly last far longer than the radio stations or retail outlets will lead you to believe.

Here are three ways to extend your Christmas holiday:

  1. Count to twelve. There’s a good reason for the song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” The church has always celebrated Christmas for twelve days. It’s the number of days between Christmas and the day of Epiphany (which is the remembrance of the visit of the Magi). Even though most of the world has already moved past the Christmas holiday, thousands of years of tradition allow us twelve good, long days to celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world, as well as the love of family and friends, and an extra measure of peace. Be intentional about using all twelve days to celebrate. Keep cooking the good food. Make one more batch of cookies. Give a few more surprise gifts. It doesn’t all have to end quite yet.
  2. Record your memories. Every Christmas Eve since Tammy and I have been married, we have taken a picture of our family on Christmas Eve. Each picture now resides in a little photo album that comes out each Christmas holiday. It’s a great way to extend the season as we look through it these days after Christmas. There are other ways to record your memories, as well. You could start a journal in which you write the memories of the season. Then bring it out next year and write in it again. In this video age you could put together a Youtube “trailer” of this year’s events. It would be a great project to bring you into the new year and leave you memories to cherish in the future.
  3. Be counter-cultural. Keep the Christmas spirit. Despite the lack of Christmas music on the radio and in the stores, keep playing it in your home and in the car. Don’t give in to our throwaway culture that wants to immediately move on to the next thing. Linger a little while. Bask in the warm glow of Christmas. A new year may come and go, but Christmas lasts until January 6th. Keep it going. If we all do this, maybe we’ll start a movement.

How do you extend your Christmas holiday?

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8 thoughts on “How to Extend Your Christmas Holiday

  1. Tom, this warmed my heart this morning. I am so with you on this! The lights and decorations do NOT come down inside the house. The music plays. I bask in the glow of the Newborn King. Despite sad family news and disfunction and frustration, I keep returning to the manger to gaze at the face of God in man made manifest.

  2. As a child, I remember stores kept their decorations up through New Year’s Day. People used their Christmas money to buy presents for themselves during that week. If retailers were smart, they’d continue that tradition because I think people would purchase more surrounded by beautiful Christmas decorations and music. Radio stations played music through New Years, TV programs continued. Church services throughout the season in honor of our Lord’s birth.

    Most of all, we wished everyone a Merry Christmas without offending anyone.

    My inside and outside decorations are up mid-November through January 6, the twelfth day of Christmas. During that time, we attend several Sunday and weekday church services between Christmas day and January 6, relatives and friends visit, Christmas music plays, late presents given. It’s also the time after December 25th for busy folks to enjoy the season. Decorations up, presents wrapped and given, cookies baked, cards sent, it’s time I can relax and enjoy.

    Starting October 31 though New Years day, two Hallmark channels continue Christmas programming 24 hours a day. Check them out next year. Look for about 10 days of Christmas programming on Hallmark in July. For you shoppers, QVC holds Christmas in July special pricing on decorations all month. HSN for one weekend. A few of the local retailers are beginning to have Christmas in July sales.

    I’m seeing some people take their decorations down on the 26th or before New Year’s Day. In the South, it’s the tradition. They think taking the old through the new, New Year’s, is bad luck for the entire next year. I hope that isn’t catching on in other parts of the country.

    Most in my neighborhood keep their inside and outside decorations up through New Year’s Day. I make sure I buy a few poinsettias around Thanksgiving. They stay beautiful through March, sometimes through April. The secret is buying them early in the season before retailers overwater or underwater causing them to lose their red leaves early. Another secret, cover before taking them to the car since very cold weather is a killer. I keep the house temperature at 70 degrees. 75 is much too warm. They like cooler temperatures. They also like a lot of light, so find a location near a window after Christmas to extend the life of their colorful leaves. Don’t allow the dirt to get too dry between watering or the leaves will begin falling off. It is normal for them to drop leaves, but not in excess during the season. They extend my Christmas season for several more months.

    Some people are leaving their white, clear, frosted/flocked Christmas decorations up through winter, putting all others away. Some are specifically decorating for winter using white and clear decorations, putting clear lights on an inside and outside tree. I put 4 trees up this year, one heavily flocked with loads of clear lights appearing to have been taken right out of the forest after a heavy snowfall. It’s so beautiful, it doesn’t need decorations. I will leave that one up for awhile, maybe into February to celebrate the newborn child, Jesus Christ. Along with red poinsettias, our decorated houses can extend this miracle until spring.

  3. Some people even extend the Christmas season until the Presentation of the Child Jesus at the Temple, which takes place in February. I was out of the country several weeks before Christmas. So, I was definitely running late on things. Naturally, I want to hang on to Christmas a little longer. I agree with you about the radio and stores rushing Christmas off to bolster the Valentine’s Day sales. Pretty sad.

  4. Tom – I love this article and feel the exact same way every year. We celebrate all the way to January 6th and always will. Just one helpful note for the like-minded out there: there is one online radio station I know of that continues high quality, choral Christmas music all the way up to January 6th. The WQXR Holiday Channel, broadcast out of NY and available on most streaming apps. It has been my saving grace for many years after the usual suspects go off the air. Have a blessed second half of the Christmas season everyone!