Every other Friday, thousands of people get unfiltered encouragement and challenge from me delivered to their inboxes. I sent this out to my email list last week and got so much positive feedback, I wanted to share it with all of you. If you enjoy it, subscribe for more at the bottom of the page or at briantome.com. To quote the great John McClane… “Welcome to the party, pal.”
We can stop the debate right now. Die Hard is a Christmas movie. Why? Because nothing says Deck the Halls more than killing threats to a meaningful holiday. For John McClane, it’s German terrorists. You might not be at Nakatomi Plaza, but your Christmas is under attack too—from meaningless traditions and the temptation to kick up your feet and do nothing. If you want your Christmas to count, these enemies need to die hard.
First, meaningless traditions. For many people, Christmas comes with a strong pull to just go through the motions. Sing the same songs, watch the same movies, plan parties with the same people. There’s nothing wrong with tradition. My family has holiday staples. Traditions can be powerful when they serve as reminders of past events or important moments. But traditions, when done thoughtlessly, numb us out. They distract us from what this season is all about.
If your December is jam packed, you need to take a critical look at what you’re doing. Literally, you should ask yourself, “Why are we doing this?” If you can’t give a good answer—don’t do it anymore. If Elf on the Shelf is causing stress, throw that damn thing away. If you’re looking forward to a colonoscopy more than the office Christmas party, don’t go. The same might be true for your extended family’s Dirty Santa get together. If there’s purposelessness in your Christmas traditions, do yourself (and your family) a favor and kill that thing.
The other enemy, laziness, is just as sinister. I know many people who look forward to Christmas as an excuse to check out. They mindlessly drink eggnog and listen to Xmas tunes without doing anything deep and meaningful. Christmas is an opportunity to go beneath the veneer in our relationships and with ourselves. A steady stream of Netflix will let that opportunity pass you by. Make the aggressive move and try something new. Play a board game. Tell someone how special they are. Ask someone to marry you. Have a meaningful conversation with your kids. Take your wife on a date. Start a new tradition that feels meaningful to your family. Spend some time alone doing something that fills you up (and TV doesn’t count). You need to kill the attitude that looks at the holidays as time to hit the easy button, a well earned veg at the end of the year.
If Christmas is about anything, it’s about risk. When I look at the Christmas story, that’s exactly what I see. Mary trusts God with a pregnancy that could have gotten her killed. Joseph puts the needs of his family above his own. The shepherds, who were the social outcasts of their day, physically moved from the fields outside town in order to find the baby. The wisemen put in money, time, and effort to make a trip that would have taken months, and then gave their most precious possessions to the child they found.
I dare you to follow their example. Instead of mindlessly moving through the holiday season, do something risky and make Christmas count. Stop a meaningless tradition or create a new one with your loved ones. Do something to kill the enemies robbing you of the power and meaning of the season, whether they look like Hans Gruber or not.
Merry Christmas… and Yippee-Ki-Yay.