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  • Adam Schell

4 Ways to Celebrate Christmas in a Pandemic

Since the beginning of November, cases of COVID-19 have been spreading exponentially across our country and across our state. In the month of November, there were nearly 4.5 million people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the United States and almost 75,000 people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in our state. And if all of those infections weren’t bad enough, we also saw COVID-19 contribute to the deaths of over 37,000 Americans and 500 Kentuckians last month alone.

Because of the exponential rise in cases of COVID-19, epidemiologists are warning us that things will only get worse over the next few months if we don’t take the necessary precautions to once again slow the spread of this virus.

So with new--and necessary--restrictions being implemented by government offices and officials at both the national and state level, it’s become crystal clear that this Christmas isn’t going to be a normal Christmas.

This Christmas isn’t going to be a normal Christmas.

So how can we celebrate Christmas if we can’t get together with our family and friends? How can we celebrate Christmas if we’re all opening up our presents over a Zoom call? How can we celebrate Christmas if we can’t have one of mom’s Christmas cookies? How can we celebrate Christmas if we can’t sing “Silent Night” in a sanctuary on Christmas Eve?

Well, here are a few ideas for you.

Remember that Christmas is about who we celebrate...not how we celebrate.

Yes, how we celebrate Christmas this year should change because we are in the middle of a global pandemic. But that doesn't change who we celebrate this time of year.

So, it's okay to be upset that your family gatherings are going to need to be smaller. It's okay to be disappointed that your company Christmas party is going to be canceled. It's okay to be frustrated that we won't have a Christmas cantata or banquet at our church this year.

But it's not okay to forget what this season is really about. In the midst of the frustration and disappointment that you're feeling right now, Christmas reminds us that God entered into this world to feel those same frustrations and those same disappointments. God became human to really understand what it's like to be one of us so that God can walk beside us no matter what.

So Christmas is a time when we can celebrate the good news that we are not alone. God is with us.

Do as many traditional things as you can.

Just because Christmas is going to be different this year, that doesn't mean that there aren't still a lot of traditional things we can do to celebrate. So do as many of the things that you typically do to celebrate Christmas as you can.

Put up your Christmas decorations...even if no one will be coming over to your house. Bake the Christmas treats that you always bake this time of year...just don't bake quite as many of them since you can't share them with family and friends. Turn on your favorite Christmas movies. Listen and sing your favorite Christmas carols. Tune in to our weekly worship services.

And, sure, doing all of those things may still not make it feel like Christmas...but they might just help it feel more like Christmas.

Create a new tradition or two.

Yes, Christmas is going to look different this year. And that probably means that your calendar isn't as full this year as it has been in the past. But rather than just mope around on a Friday night in December when you were supposed to be attending a party with your family or friends, why not use that time to create a new Christmas tradition.

One of my daughter's favorite things to do at Christmas is to look at the lights. So usually what that means is that we hop in the car a couple of nights during this time of year and we drive around some of the neighborhoods close to our house just to see the light displays that are out.

But this year, we're thinking about taking it a step further. Instead of just seeing what displays may have popped up close to our house, we're talking about going to one of the big lighting displays that are put up in our city every year. It might be Lights Under Lousiville or just one of the big neighborhood displays, but we're working to find new things we can do this year to bring a little more joy and excitement to this season.

And you can do the same thing. Maybe you've always wanted to build a gingerbread house, or ring the bell for the Salvation Army, or to just watch a certain Christmas movie...well, 2020 is the perfect time to try out something new. And who knows? It might just become a new Christmas tradition for you.

Read the Gospel of Luke in December

Like I've already written, even though our Christmas celebrations may change this year...who we're celebrating doesn't. We're celebrating Jesus. And there is no better way to remember what that means than to spend time reading one of the stories of Jesus's time on this earth.

As it turns out, the Gospel of Luke is 24 chapters long. So, if you start reading the Gospel of Luke on December 1, you reach the end of it on Christmas Eve. And then, come Christmas Day, you'll remember that Jesus is more than a baby. Jesus is our Lord and our Savior.

Well, those are just a few thoughts that I have about how we can celebrate Christmas in the midst of a pandemic. But what about you? How are you planning to celebrate this year? Let us know in the comments.

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