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The holiday season has been different in each of the three years we’ve lived in Connecticut. We spent our first Christmas traveling back to Illinois. The second year, we hosted multiple family members over the six weeks between Thanksgiving and the New Year. This year, we are staying local and not hosting anyone.

Not seeing family around the holidays is a strange sensation. There’s no shortage of holiday activity within our house and among the kids, but there’s a noticeable difference in our schedule and pace this year.

Our first two holiday seasons felt a little like Mary and Joseph. One year we were on the move, loading up the van and traversing back to our towns of origin. Another year we were the hosts, allowing visitors to come from far off places and celebrate with us and our kids.

Then there’s this year.

Just us.

And Jesus.

I [Charlie] know its the church-y thing to say, but having one dimension of the holiday season out of the equation (extended family gatherings) has opened space for us to really think about how we want to celebrate Jesus this Christmas.

There’s the normal stuff like our Advent calendar and a Jesus Birthday Cake. But I don’t think God is asking us to add Christian products to our already overfilled house.

More than anything, we’re listening. We’re seeking. We’re eager to experience God in the midst of this season. We’re advent-ing.

I told City Coast recently that I didn’t want to have another foolish Christmas conformed to the patterns of the American middle class. The stress and exhaustion of the holiday season resulting in new year resolutions for rest and soul care aren’t desirable to me this time around.

Rather than doing one more thing, I’m taking a totally different posture toward Christmas. It’s easy to schedule more Christian-y stuff amidst the normal, holiday stuff and feel like we’ve remembered the “reason for the season.”

But the wise men and shepherds weren’t given a program to join, or a resource to complete, or an extra event to attend. They were given heavenly signs, angels and a star, and found abundant hope, joy and peace with the Christ who came to be with them. It wasn’t what they were expecting, but it’s exactly what they needed. It wasn’t how they expected it, but God rarely arrives according to our expectations.

This Christmas, I’m looking to the heavens. I’m asking for cosmic hope, joy, and peace. I’m looking for a King who came as a kid. I’m looking for a star that will lead me closer to Him. I’m asking angels to sing good news into the dark nights of my soul.

I’m not adding something, I’m anticipating Someone.


City Coast is dedicating another three children on December 3


God, walk with us into 2024 and lead us into the next chapter of life together.


Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (Isaiah 7.9, ESV).