A Christmas Recipe For All Seasons

photo-9Ah, Christmas cookies. The final taste of sweetness before Christmas goes to bed for another year.

Whether leaving a plate for Santa or stealing the last crumb for yourself, it’s hard to beat a freshly baked Christmas cookie.

A cookie is sweet perfection for just a moment. It’s a glorious moment, but it’s merely a moment.

Before you know it, the flavor is gone. The joy you experienced is temporary. It’s hollow. It’s just a morsel of something greater.

Christmas has a way of being like this. The holiday season is a sweet moment. Everything in the world seems right and perfect. But often it’s just a moment. Some years it seems there’s nothing lasting about Christmas that leaves a mark on us. Continue reading

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The One Wise Way To Stay Merry At Christmas

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Could you be merry around Ernest?

Imagine having to deal with all your Christmas woes – buying the presents, wrapping the presents, balancing all the parties, balancing your budget, watching your weight, putting up with your family – and then having to deal with a neighbor like Ernest P. Worrell. Continue reading

A Christmas Prayer From Henri Nouwen

I’ve done plenty of talking to you about Christmas this month. How about some wisdom from a far greater mind, that of author Henri Nouwen?

Henri Nouwen lived an incredible life of ministry in the 20th Century and wrote many powerful books. The Road To Daybreak is a journal of his first year living in the L’Arche community, a shelter for adults with special needs where he spent many of his later years serving some of the most needy souls. It’s an honest, heartbreaking, challenging diary of a man all-consumingly following God’s calling.

I just happened to be reading the chapter on Nouwen’s first Christmas in the community the other day. On the entry for December 23 Nouwen offers a humble Christmas prayer, and I wanted to share that with you today. Here is the prayer in full: Continue reading

Did Santa Claus Screw Up Your Psychology?

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Santa Claus is a pretty messed up dude.

Morbidly obese. Unrepentant home invader. Does he even pay all those elves for their overtime?

Santa’s worst crime just might be how he’s forever screwed up our psychology.

Santa Claus operates on the code of the Naughty or Nice list. If kids behave all year they end up on the Nice list and are promised presents. If they end up on the Naughty list their stocking will be filled with coal.

This is a pretty genius tactic parents have used for generations to encourage their kids to behave well throughout the year.

As children we grow up with this psychology of getting rewarded for our good deeds. “Being Good = Presents” in our brains.

The problem comes when we confuse God with Santa Claus. Continue reading

The Best Christmas Movie You’ve Never Heard Of

tumblr_lvk7rfN2UM1qzb1qio1_500A Christmas Story. Miracle on 34th Street. A Charlie Brown Christmas. It’s A Wonderful Life. 

All undeniable classics.

Let’s face it though – there’s some really strange, really bad Christmas “classics” that get trotted out every year.

Have you watched Frosty The Snowman lately? It’s just…weird. The Santa Clause is fantastic, but unfortunately The Santa Clause 2 and 3 exist. Vince Vaughn allegedly made a couple of movies called Fred Claus and Four Christmases, but I haven’t seen them and I’d like to continue pretending they’re not real thank you very much.

It makes me sad every year when crappy Christmas movies make the cut and underrated gems become further lost to time.

So I made it a point to spend one day writing about the Best Christmas Movie You’ve Never Seen – Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas. Continue reading

Why I Give My Dog Christmas Presents

photo-8Every year I buy my dog a Christmas present. 

You might think I’m foolish.

You are more than welcome to your opinion and you may in fact be right.

I mean, I recently quit my full time job. I’m only working a part time seasonal job right now. I’ve got a house to pay for, Christmas presents to buy for family and friends, and all my other bills to worry about.

It’s probably not wise for me to ration out any of my money for a Christmas present for a dog.

After all, he has no idea there’s a new toy and a bag of treats wrapped up with his name on it waiting underneath the Christmas tree.

Christmas will be just another day for him. I’ll open the gift for him, he’ll enjoy it momentarily, then go back to thinking about whatever it is dogs think about.

So why bother? Continue reading

Merry Christmas From Conan and The Boss

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You thought I’d go all Christmas season without writing about Bruce Springsteen?

Did someone ring your Jingle Bells too hard?

Here’s “Merry Christmas Baby” from Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band with an assist from Conan O’Brien on guitar.

Yes. Conan O’Brien playing guitar with the E Street Band. If that doesn’t say Christmas, I don’t know what does.

Christmas is a time of celebration. It’s a time of gathering and singing together with everyone around. It’s about inviting people who wouldn’t normally be there into the joy.

Think about it – it wasn’t just Jesus, Mary and Joseph who made the Christmas story possible. God invited three wise men to come out of the East and play a part. He invited an ordinary innkeeper to play a role. He invited the manager of a lowly manger to provide a home for the newborn king.

Ordinary people invited into the extraordinary celebration of the newborn king. Now that’s something to sing about.

If you’re having a humbug kind of day – stop. Breathe. Watch the video. Or find your favorite Christmas song.

Sing along. Take a few minutes to take it all in and consider all the reasons you have to celebrate. Remember God is inviting you to come off the sidelines today and join an incredible story.

Happy Friday.

Merry Friday.

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