Christmas hype can start in August (in the UK) but the real problems begin when shops target their wares subtly. All the advertising with billboards, TV advertisements, leaflets and folk showing their products can be in one’s face but at least one knows what is happening – or do we?  There is a lot of subliminal advertising going on that psychologically influences us almost unbeknown to us.

The simple happenings of the first Christmas story didn’t have hype or glamour or pushy/subtle advertising methods.  Instead, God spoke promises that were written down by men and women of God who were listening out for his voice years before events unfolded. So, when Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem many hundreds of years ago, people who knew about these promises were on the look out for the Messiah. The shepherds and Anna and Simeon were a few of those waiting for him and Mary, the mother of Jesus, herself would have been aware of the coming One. Each Jewish girl up until then, apparently, wondered whether they would be the carrier of this promised Messiah that would redeem Israel. God must have seen and prepared the right carrier of his Precious Son. Mary certainly was a highly favoured lady as the Bible tells us early in the book of Luke.

So, how, as Christians, do we avoid swanning along with all the material aspects of Christmas? There is only one way, in my opinion, and that is to stay close to Jesus so that one can hear what he would have of us – whether to go here or do that or send that or phone that person.

I have a tendency to panic.  Recently, with my elderly mother living with us, I have resorted to moments of panic with certain situations concerning her. I am reminded that we can access the peace of God that passes all understanding so that we can keep calm in the face of natural tendencies to go over the top! Then, we can overcome the difficulties or problems much better because we recognise that God is in control.

Mary didn’t panic, although one wonders whether Joseph had a few panic attacks at news from his espoused. “A baby from God and talked about by an angel.”

When children see us as adults keeping our peace when trouble strikes, they can learn to trust God more, too. As we keep Christmas simple and in perspective and major on what it’s really all about then children can appreciate the wonder of what happened that first Christmas. The God of all creation became a baby – (it’s like us humans becoming an ant).

We can remind our children of aspects of who God is – the Creator, Provider, Healer, Saviour and Comforter as they realise how he is kind, good, gentle and faithful. They can learn about his love and joy as they see these qualities displayed in the home by us adults, by God’s grace and enabling.

Let’s encourage and smile at everyone we meet this Christmas time so that the buildup, that we can all face if we let it affect us, can diminish and become less a threat for families. Christmas can mean (just simple suggestions):

C – cherishing one another

H – hugging one another often

R – reaching out to others in need

I – instructing our younger members of the family

S – sowing words of love in people’s hearts and on cards

T – tasting and seeing that God is good with daily love times with Him

M- making time to be or listen to people

A – actively praying for people throughout each day

S – singing and praising God

Let’s go at God’s pace this Christmas as the days go by focusing on what really matters, even if half of what we thought we might do gets put aside.