When it Doesn’t Feel Like Christmas

Marie Bonifacio

December 13, 2019

Fill in the blank:

“Only ___ more days til Christmas!!!”

What? It’s December already?! It’s enough to make me panic.

Gifts to buy . . .

Things to do . . .

Plans to make . . .

Family reunions . . .

Food to order . . .

People to host . . .

Places to go . . .

Bills to pay . . .

Hay caramba!


For the first time in forever, I am unprepared. I haven’t bought gifts. I have no Christmas decor except for one tiny wooden tree that’s sitting on my bare dining table. And it is already December 1 as I write.

I am, by habit, meticulous about Christmas. I love the holidays, the gatherings, advent nights, and all the preparations that go with it.

So does Joey.

My dear hubby likes trimming the Christmas tree. Rather, he loves decorating our Christmas tree.

This is Joey’s ritual for the past million years:

He will play Christmas carols, turn the AC on full blast for “winter effect” in this tropical country, light our Christmas-scented candles (for a cinnamon or peppermint effect), unwrap the ornaments one by one, and get teary-eyed as certain ornaments remind him of memories of our growing family through the years.

He then plans which ornament goes on the tree, and which ones go on the garlands. Then he will take each little item and hang them carefully in his chosen spot.

Yes, underneath the strong leader surface, my hubby is a sentimental Christmas bear on the inside.

“Tree-Trimming Night” for the Bonifacios is really just watching Papa Joey trim the tree and get teary-eyed until midnight as the rest of us gather around him, read our huge collection of Christmas books, twist tinsel around each other, and basically just goof around as a family.


But today, our Manila tree is still bare, the Christmas books still stored, and we won’t return to Manila until the eighteenth. God is showing me a different side of Christmas in another part of the world.

One quiet night, Joey and I had a very un-Christmassy dinner of scrambled eggs and hotdogs, beside our tiny wooden tree. Then he washed the plates while I played Christmas carols on Spotify.

Then we sat on our sofa in silence and watched the city lights from our window.

Silent Night. Holy Night.

Sometimes, we feel that it’s not Christmas unless . . .

. . . we’ve bought our Christmas outfits, preferably red.

. . . our home is decorated.

. . . all gifts are bought and wrapped.

. . . we have received gifts.

. . . we have a family picture taken.

. . . all our loved ones are gathered and complete.

. . . turkey, ham, or a family specialty has been served

. . . Santa Claus had arrived in town.

But the first Christmas had none of that. Joseph and Mary had no family or relatives with them, no fancy decor, no food, no special place, no room at the inn, and no Santa.

But there was Jesus. And because of Jesus . . .


1. There is light

The glory of the Lord shone and hope came instead of fear.

And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. . . . ”

Luke 2:9–12 (NASB)

2. We are invited.

This means no one is excluded; both rich and poor are welcome.

When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.

Luke 2:15,16 (NASB)

. . . magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

Matthew 2:1,2 (NASB)

3. We can receive a gift from heaven.

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

James 1:17 (NASB)

It is interesting how Joseph and Mary had no camera and no Instagram to record this special occasion yet the world world can still picture that scene to this day. Joseph and Mary leaning over the baby Jesus, angels singing, and shepherds and magi kneeling.

Joy to the world. The Lord has come.


Dear reader, I don’t know what kind of Christmas you’re having this year. Maybe it’s filled with a flurry of activities; maybe it’s quiet like ours so far, but remember to celebrate!

Celebrate because you Have Jesus.

Celebrate because He gives you hope instead of fear.

Celebrate because He invites you to come to Him just as you are.

Most of all, He came to give you the best Christmas present of all—eternal life with Him.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

John 3:16

This article was originally published on December 2016 on Pastor Joey Bonifacio’s blog.


The Author

Marie Bonifacio

Marie Antonio Bonifacio is a writer, a speaker, who also loves to paint with all colors of the rainbow. She has a degree in Broadcast Communication from University of the Philippines Diliman. She has been married for 35 years to her husband, Joey, with whom she has three married sons, three grandsons, and a shih tzu named Vito. Marie currently divides her time between Singapore and Manila, as she ministers together with her husband at Every Nation Church Singapore.