How to Marinate Not Microwave Your Christmas Season

Reading Time: 4 minutes


“Christmas always sneaks up on me. I’d love to just marinate in the season instead of being microwaved through it!”

So declared my oldest daughter, Katie, recently. She’s mom to five active, fun children between eleven and two. Microwave indeed!

Katie also knows the reason for the season. But like many of us, she struggles to hang on to it.

There’s an Advent for that! This is the precise purpose of Advent: to marinate us in the reason for the season. Advent is a centuries old rhythm created to help us anticipate the celebration of the first coming of Jesus while simultaneously anticipating Jesus’ second coming.

Spice up the days: 

This year Advent begins Sunday, November 29 and culminates December 24. 


Think of the ingredients below as a recipe. Add the traditions to your Christmas calendar that appeal to you to spice up your Christmas anticipation and make Christmas more meaningful.  

Add in a daily Advent calendar that highlights the story of Jesus:

For families with young children: 

For adults: 

Daily readings for adults: 

Add in daily pinches of wisdom from devotional books.

  • “Watch for the Light” is a deep and rich collection of offerings from the likes of Sylvia Plath, Henri Nouwen, Madeleine L’Engle, Annie Dillard, and C. S. Lewis. 

Activities and readings for all:

  • Assemble an advent wreath and read a passage, say a prayer, and light a candle each Sunday of Advent culminating with the Christ candle. Here are some ideas about Advent, Advent wreaths, colors, and candles.

  • Join us at my church St James Presbyterian for our Advent series “Songs of Christmas,” focusing on the idea that God’s people responded to the news of a coming or arriving Messiah through song and poetry. First Sunday: Psalm 30, Second Sunday Luke 3:1-6, Third Sunday Luke 2:67-80, Fourth Sunday Luke 1:46-55, Christmas Eve Luke 2:8-20, and the Sunday after Christmas Luke 2:25-35. What song would you sing in response to Christ’s coming? 

Add in your own creative spices:

  • Watch your favorite Christmas movies and discuss how they do or do not mirror truth about God and/or the original Christmas story. For example, Santa is similar to Jesus in that he is all knowing and generous but is not like Jesus because he keeps records of wrongs. Jesus forgives wrongs. 
  • Take a picture a day that represents or symbolizes Christmas words. For example light, giving, Jesus, peace, love, hope (the themes of the Advent candles), nativity, manger, family.

Things that will sour your Christmas tradition recipe:

  • Commercialism. Ration your television viewing to limit how commercials taint the meaning of the season. 
  • Shopping. Keep shopping and discussion of gift lists in their proper proportion.

  • Too much of anything: Don’t let the pressure of this being a special season make you add too much to your calendar. Even from this list.

Finally, add a half cup full of thankfulness to the season. In these days of what we might call Covid Christmas it is easy to focus on what’s not in the cupboard, school plays, beloved family gatherings, Christmas parties, etc. 

But as you cook up Advent recipes and traditions by lighting candles, counting the days, reading stories (and telling your own), and inventing new Christmas recipes, may God pour into those once empty spaces his hope, peace, love, ands joy in the person of Jesus Christ.

5 thoughts on “How to Marinate Not Microwave Your Christmas Season”

  1. Georgie Ann KETTIG

    thank you, Eugene!,… nice reminders!,… it’s good to “get on the awareness train” early, for sure ~ and to adjust our focus and trajectory!,… God bless!,… (-:

  2. Pastor, your last paragraph truly sums up the Advent Season quite well. For me and my family, Advent was not always focused on a Christian’s perspective first & foremost! However, time and circumstances helped to change hearts, minds, and attitudes toward Advent and its true meaning.

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