Blog/CYM Blog Intentional Christmas by Joe Chernowski It was my least favorite part of every Christmas: Mass. My family attended mass every Sunday growing up, and I never had a problem attending, except for this one time per year. There was nothing wrong with that mass, per se, other than the fact that we always went Christmas Eve afternoon. Immediately after mass, we’d gather with our cousins and grandparents for the beginning of two days of Christmas celebrations… but first came mass. I had to dress up and behave and hold it together and make it through that mass, which was my one hurdle before food, family, presents, flying wrapping paper, cookies, more cookies, more presents, and probably more cookies. In hearing from others, people’s favorite parts of Christmas are A Charlie Brown Christmas, singing at Christmas masses, being together as family, traditions, fun presents, and of course, Jesus Christ. Some of people’s least favorite parts are spending too much, the work of decorating and then cleaning them up, the busy-ness, the stress of pulling it all off, forgetting to enjoy it, and of course, Elf on a Shelf. There is so much chaos in the life of our family around Christmas. From Christmas cookie parties to Nativity plays to figuring our presents for everyone, to getting together with friends, it sometimes seems so much like a blur. But one word comes to mind when I think about how my wife and I try (and often fail) to approach our Christmas plans: intentionality. Instead of letting the Christmas chaos run over us like a truck, we start talking about gifts, and meals, and plans, and events in November. We want to make sure our family makes the most out of this awesome time of the year, but we don’t want it to feel like we’re running from place to place and just trying to hold on through the busy-ness. We want to focus on those favorite parts of Christmas (my wife’s favorite is The Muppet Christmas Carol), and not let ourselves get bogged down in the details of the least favorite parts. Being intentional about how you and your family celebrate Christmas allows you to prioritize what is most important in your celebration. My wife and I are most looking forward to Christmas morning. We’ll wake the kids and not let them open any presents until we’ve gone to morning mass. After mass, we’ll change back into PJ’s, sing “Happy Birthday Jesus,” eat birthday cake, and then go at those gifts. It is not easy to always intentional about how you and your family celebrate Christmas. But it is not too late to be purposeful over the next few days of Christmas celebrations and details. Making choices as you plan out the days ahead can make a big difference for your family. Christmas is an invitation to make Jesus more alive in your family, but for that to happen, you need to plan purposefully. I’m praying for you and your family this Christmas season, that you may encounter Him more deeply than ever before… and that you sing lots of songs, eat delicious food, make fun memories, give fun presents, and receive much love!