It all started when I was still a long-john wearing, ninja turtle-watching, CapriSun-drinking kid. Every November my grandfather would bring out that glossy bible of childhood consumerism - the ToysRUs Holiday Catalog. He would place this shiny, colorful book in my lap and say the sweetest sentence I had ever heard, "Ok boy - what do you want Papa to get you for Christmas?" My eyes would light up as I would dream about motorized jeeps, Ghostbuster proton packs, and karaoke machines (I was weirdly into microphones).
For weeks, I would anticipate getting the items I circled in the catalog. I would fantasize about how each item would improve my life. On Christmas Eve, I could never sleep. On Christmas morning, I was never disappointed. I love Christmas.
I never related to people who said that Christmas isn't their favorite holiday. For me, it seems obvious. Christmas has all the good stuff rolled into one. The candy of Halloween, the presents of your birthday, the food from Thanksgiving, and a spiritual meaning that points to Easter. Every year, I get so excited to make this year the best Christmas ever.
I think this is going to be the year. Can't you feel it? This year, I have a secret. I'm going to pay closer attention to the way in which I measure this season's success. In the past, I think my scorecard has been pretty limited. It's really boiled down to three things: presents, parties, and pictures. I spend endless energy focused on the things that will make me happy. I stress out about which new gadget, clothing item, or toy will bring me the greatest satisfaction on Christmas morning. I also stress out even more about what I'm going to buy others. I want to "win Christmas" by giving gifts that make other people burst into tears or smiles...or something. I also want to make sure all of this is captured on my iPhone.
I'm going to hang onto some of this. I'm still going to buy presents. I'm still going to take photos. I just want to give more time this year to things I've neglected in the past. This year, I'm not looking for less. I'm looking for more.
8 Fresh New Insights about God
This year, I want to make room in my life to find God in a more intimate way. In the past, I would pursue Jesus during this time of year out of seasonal duty. Now I'm doing it because I've realized the He is the best part. When I find Jesus, I find peace, joy, and love like I've never known - like I could have never deserved. I want to seek Him during this Holiday season and write about what I'm learning in my journal. I'm keeping score! I can't wait to see what I learn.
7 Phone Calls Catching Up with Old Friends
I have some of the best people in my life. I have been shaped in meaningful ways by the individuals I've encountered. After living in 3 different states and traveling to lots more, I have friends all over the world. However, my life gets so busy that I never really get the chance to connect. I know I will be happier this Christmas season if I sacrifice shopping time with a few more phone calls.
6 Excuses to Laugh with my Family
The times I spend laughing with my family are the times I will never forget. This year I get the opportunity to head back to Georgia for the holidays. I'm going to relish every minute. I'm going to be silly, reference old inside jokes, and go for every punchline. I want to cherish every second I'm with my family through laughter. I can't wait.
5 Moments that Feel Truly Selfless
I love serving, but sometimes I make it really complicated. This year, I want to find 5 quiet ways to make a difference. I'm going to look for ways to respond to needs and opportunities immediately. I'm praying this will happen five times. I'm hoping it happens lots more.
4 Meaningful Conversations with My Wife
I love my wife more than anything in the world. During the holidays, it seems like it's easy for us to find ourselves going in different directions. We have to divide and conquer. This Christmas, I want to find no less that 4 times where we look into each others eyes, and just talk.
3 Second Hugs from Anyone Who is Willing
I've never been a very touchy person. My brother Alex is the opposite. He's always quick to go in for the hug, the squeeze, the lick-on-the-face. This Christmas, I want to be more like Alex. (Except for the face licks.)
2 Solid Personal Goals for the New Year
I want to begin 2017 with a clear direction. I have tons of ideas of where I hope to go in ministry and in business. I haven't paused to think about goals that relate to my emotional health and my character. By the end of this holiday season, I'd like to have to have these on paper.
1 Unforgettable Moment
I'm putting this one on the scorecard, and leaving it open. I don't think you can force an unforgettable moment. I think you know it when it happens. I can't wait to find it. It's going to require me to keep my eyes open, to engage in every second, and to be present in my life.
If Christmas is more about these things this year, I know it will be the best one ever. I want to feel the magic of the season in a deeper place than ever before. I want that for you too. I would love hear your scorecard in the comments. What am I missing from the list? I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas.