The holidays are always a busy time in the NFL. This year we play on Christmas Eve and then again on New Year’s Day, but no matter how busy it is or how much traveling we have to do as a team, there is always time to enjoy the festivities of Christmas that we look forward to each year.
I love Christmastime. I love the holiday traditions that we have as a family such as getting a big Christmas tree to decorate together. When I was little my parents used to put together a full train set to circle the bottom of the tree, which I’m going to do this year for my kids. Last weekend, about to leave to face the 49ers with the team, I knew that my daughter would be missing me so I helped her decorate a gingerbread house in the theme of her favorite movie, Trolls.
We try to make Christmas a really special time for our kids. I remember how special Christmas was when I was a kid; we had so much fun making gingerbread houses, driving around looking at all the lights on the houses, and getting gifts for each other. I loved growing up with the magic of Santa Claus and right now my kids (ages 6, 3, and 1) are enjoying that too. My wife has been enjoying the Call Santa App because every time our kids begin to talk back or misbehave, she can call Santa and let him know. It seems to be working pretty well! And I have to incorporate a Christmas story that I grew up with in Louisiana: The Legend of Papa Noel: A Cajun Christmas Story.
Experiencing the magic of Christmas through the eyes of my kids is really fun, but I love Christmas most of all because of the real reason for the season — the coming of Jesus Christ. It’s not about getting gifts but about giving—just as Christ gave His life for us. It’s about understanding why Jesus’ birth went the way it did and celebrating how thankful we are that God sent His only Son for us.
This season, I’ve been experiencing God in a lot of new ways. Although it hasn’t been going the way our team would have hoped it would, I’ve been learning that joy is not circumstantial. Happiness may be dependent on your situation but joy is eternal. If you have joy in your heart, nothing can take that from you. Happiness may go away, but the joy of Jesus Christ will always be there.
In life—whether we play football or sell insurance for a living — each of us will experience hard times. You’ll learn a lot about yourself by how you handle those situations. If you are strong in your faith, no matter what happens, you will remain the same person. In the hard times you will be giving God praise; in the good times you will be praising the name of Jesus. With the joy of Christ in your heart, all other things in life will pale in comparison.
God has given us His best gift — Jesus Christ, His Son. He deserves for us to give Him our best as a living sacrifice, full of the joy and hope that He gives.
Matt Forte is a regular contributor of The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.
Check out Matt’s Increase profile here: https://theincrease.com/author/matt-forte/
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