It happens every year. Once I get going and get my Christmas on, I don’t want it to end. I want to keep shopping and baking and wrapping and most of all, spending time with loved ones, far and near. I want to keep singing carols and wishing people a “Merry Christmas” with a big smile. I want to see the lights twinkling everywhere and hug my family.

And then I wake up on December 26th.

No carols on the radio.

The tree doesn’t look quite as sparkly.

The house is empty.

All that’s left of the cookies are crumbs.

I check social media and hear people say they’re so glad Christmas is over. Their tree is down, the lights packed away. They are ready to get back to their regularly scheduled life.

I am so not ready.

I don’t want to let go of this wonderful time of year. I want to keep the goodwill and laughter and warmth alive all year long.

That’s my challenge today, and maybe yours, too. To find ways to keep the wonder and joy and hope of Christ’s birth alive through this darkest season of the year.

Our lights and tree will stay lit until after January 1st. I still have my Christmas CDs in the car and on the stereo. The house still smells like pine-scented candles.

Hubby's fabulous light display

Hubby’s fabulous light display


But more important, I’m keeping the light of Christmas in my heart. I plan to smile at every store clerk and waitress, every time. I plan to hug my family, every chance I get.

And later today, I will start to look ahead to the New Year, to dream and think and pray about what’s next. Because that’s what hope does. It keeps looking forward.

Joy keeps singing. Love keeps giving.

Even when skies are gray, that makes me smile. And I get excited about today. And tomorrow.

Merry week-after-Christmas, everyone. How are you doing this in-between week?