Some of the sagest advice we receive in this life can sound like a simple thing we already know deep in our bodies, but it gains authority when we hear it confirmed aloud.

This was true for me 16 years ago, right before my first visit to a hospital patient as a spiritual care intern. My supervisor blessed me with these words: Remember that you are not bringing God into the room. God is already there, and God will remain even after you go.

I knew that, of course, but hearing it gave me the strength to believe it in a new way.

There is a sermon I need to hear every single Christmas, and it goes like this: Peace, honey. Jesus is going to be born anyway.

The incarnation of God doesn’t depend on my budget or my hustle or my traditions or even my Christmas Eve sermon. God is coming to live with, live like and live for us, whether I’m ready or not. When a loved one speaks that blessing over me, my shoulders relax and I’m able to notice God’s delight in all the little things about this time of year.

God is coming to live with, live like and live for us, whether I’m ready or not.

A few years ago, the flurry of the Christmas season looked more like a blizzard to me, and a few things had to give. I decided not to send Christmas cards, and Christmas Eve dinner became pizza between worship services. Letting go and liberation!

The shift helped me stay rooted in the ordinary, even during an extraordinary season. These little rituals of not doing something or of doing something else reminded me that God is already here—and will be here even after we pack up the decorations in January.

Perhaps you adapted your traditions during COVID holidays or put them on pause altogether. What did you learn about God’s presence and the patterns you hold dear? What can give or change this year? What ordinary seasonal ritual or stressor could use a blessing?


  • Write out a blessing together as a family. Begin with a phrase such as “God already knows …” or “God delights in ….”
  • Name what is good, what is hard and what is unbreakably true in your blessing. Allow for humor, offer grace and notice what is never finished.
  • Engage the senses as you write your blessing. Notice the smell of an evergreen tree, the taste of a pie, the sound of sleigh bells.
  • Make your blessing tangible. Do this with the aid of an ornament, a candle or an ordinary errand.
Meta Herrick Carlson
Meta Herrick Carlson is an ELCA pastor, a poet and author of Ordinary Blessings for the Christmas Season.

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