The Christmas lights look a little less dazzling this week, the week after Christmas. The excitement of pulling the ornaments out of boxes after an entire year in storage and fondly remembering the stories that accompany them has faded with the prospect of taking each one off the tree, carefully packing it back into boxes, and more carefully lugging those boxes down the basement steps without tripping.

Garbage cans are stuffed full of ripped up wrapping paper, smashed up bows, and boxes that once held unopened mystery gifts. A mystery no longer, the gifts are appreciated but never quite as much as when they’re still a mystery.

The charmingly ugly sweaters that were fun and festive to wear to office parties and relatives’ houses now simply look ugly as they await another year in storage.

And the Christmas goodies that were so irresistible are now a constant reminder that it’s time to make new New Year’s resolutions. The primary one, again, is losing weight, exercising more than the muscles it takes to operate the remote control to watch Christmas movies, and eating healthier.

The memory of rich food and sweet sweets is as distant as that extra day off work.

Family and friends have gone back home. It’s time to clean the house and think of creative ways to make meals from leftovers that threaten to bust open the refrigerator door.

Another Christmas Season has passed. Another New Year is knocking at the door. It won’t go away quietly. And one question presents itself. Is there life after Christmas?

After all, we spend a lot of time preparing for Christmas. We plan. We shop for the perfect gifts. We decorate, with a frenzy at times. Even those of us who don’t bake much the rest of the year, bake goodies galore. We clean our houses with newfound zeal. We cook recipes that we wouldn’t attempt the rest of the year. We send out cards with heartfelt greetings, praying that we don’t receive a card at the last minute from someone who wasn’t on our list.

We hope and pray everyone likes their gifts. The perfect gifts we spend time planning and finding and wrapping and fussing over. And we pray that in the middle of all the activities, we can get some much needed rest.

Is there life after Christmas? The answer depends on whose life you celebrate at Christmas. Celebrating family and friends is great. We are a people who need connections. We need one another. We need to feel loved. We need to love. But if we stop there, then Christmas is just another holiday. It’s simply another time to celebrate the special people in our lives. It becomes another reason to get together. A time like so many others.

If that describes your Christmas, then you’re missing the entire reason we have Christmas at all. The birth of one very special baby born more than 2,000 years ago in a little town called Bethlehem. That’s a long time ago and yet, the effects of his birth are still present today. Because he was born, we no longer have to sacrifice lambs and other animals to be forgiven for our sins. Jesus is our sacrificial lamb who died on the cross for each one of us.

Because he was born, we can have a new life even when there seems to be no hope at all. You see, he is the very definition of hope.

Is there life after Christmas? Oh, yes. It’s called eternity for all of us who believe in that baby born so long ago in Bethlehem. He traveled all the way to the cross for us. We know that after three days he rose from the grave, defeating death and making a way for us to one day live in Heaven with him and the Father.

It’s not too late to give yourself a very special Christmas gift this year. The gift of Jesus. The gift of belief and a new life. The gift of eternity. One size fits all. No returns necessary. It’s a gift that you’ll never outgrow. Never tire of. And yet, it’s also one gift that’s great to re-gift. In fact, share it with all the people on your Christmas list. After all, it’s the best gift of all. It’s the only one that truly matters. In fact, it’s life changing.

Is there life after Christmas? You bet there is. And his name is Jesus. The sweetest name of all.

Kathy Yoder is a devotional writer. She may be reached at kathyyoder4@gmail.com.

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