On this seventh day of Advent, we share advice from Norman Vincent Peale, the founder of Guideposts, about how we can make Christ a holiday guest in our home...
Day 7: Keep Christmas Calm
Last year a mother in Pennsylvania wrote me a sad letter about Christmas in her home. “It had all started out so well,” she said. “My daughter and her husband traveled more than a thousand miles to be with us. The house was full of children and aunts, and on the morning of the 24th we all joined together to wrap the presents we give to a local home for indigents every year. That was about the last happy thing we did together.
“As the day went on, the tension and crowdedness began to work on us. Disagreements developed into emotional explosions. By Christmas morning our holiday was a shambles.”
That letter probably sounds familiar to thousands of families who recognize the paradox that Christmas brings. The season of love can turn into a time of anger when, tired from travel, from shopping, from all the pressures, we are ready to explode.
How do you prevent such explosions? Families have to work at it.
I recall a friend telling me that Christmas at his home was always more serene when there were nonfamily guests in the house. The family, he said, acquired company manners for the occasion.
This idea of a special guest at Christmas has so impressed me that I’m going to make a suggestion to you if you feel a storm brewing in your home this Christmas: Try making the holiday guest in your house Jesus Christ.
Anybody who sets his mind to it can think of ways to include Him in the family gathering. One man I know says that the first thing his family does on Christmas morning is read the story of Jesus’s birth as Luke tells it. This seems to me a logical and lovely way to evoke His presence in the home.
Then, what guest at Christmas does not have a present waiting for him under the tree? I think of the mother in Pennsylvania who wrote about family gifts for the poor. A similar family project, dedicated to Him, would be a perfect gift, and a vivid reminder of His presence.
Perhaps the best conscious way of making Jesus a guest is at the dinner table. Try setting a place for Him at your table, and be aware of the meaning of the chair set aside for Him. When you say grace, join hands around the table and let the warmth of your love for one another flow from hand to hand.
In your prayer to God, thank Him for the coming of His Son. Pray that the Guest at your table will become a permanent resident in your hearts. I guarantee that Christmas will be a happier family occasion if you do.
This story first appeared in the December 1971 edition of Guideposts.