Into a world that seems to whirl faster with each passing day, the Christmas season rises like a sanctuary of tranquility, wrapping us in warmth, fond memories, and opportunity for reflection. If we approach the season well, deliberate deceleration calms our frenzied lives and restores a fleeting serenity. Amidst the aroma of freshly baked cookies, the twinkle of lights, and the festive decorations, families can hit the pause button, collectively slowing down to savor the peaceful moments that truly matter in the season where we recognize and celebrate the coming of the Prince of Peace.
While the lights, pings, and notifications of smartphones, tablets, and laptops perpetually demand attention, the season beckons us to a refreshing escape. For a few days these digital distractions can take a backseat, allowing families to rediscover the joy of face-to-face connections. Around dinner tables adorned with holiday finery, the art of conversation can take center stage. The clattering of dishes and the harmonious laughter that reverberates through the room can be the soundtrack for genuine connection, replacing the hum and distraction of the digital world.
This intentional unplugging is a cultural shift, a conscious choice to embrace the analog warmth of shared experiences in front of a flickering fire, or at the base of a tree adorned with memories. Board games make a triumphant return. Monopoly sparks strategic debates. Scrabble unfolds as a battle of wits. And a simple deck of cards transforms into a conduit for laughter and bonding. In the glow of holiday lights, families can rediscover the pleasure of each other's company as books are read and stories are told, at once recovering old and forging new memories that endure the transient nature of a social media post and settle deeper than a TikTok video.
Or maybe it’s a chilly walk in the woods, enjoying the experience of an outdoor sanctuary adorned in the colors of the season or, perhaps, decorated in a robe of snowy white. The wonder surrounds us, not as a profile picture, cover photo, or screensaver, but an experience that satisfies all of our senses, filling us with an appreciation for the One Who, even with all the beauty in our surroundings, still values us as the pinnacle of His creation.
Yet, as the dawn of the new year approaches, families face a formidable challenge — to carry forward the spirit of intentional connection into the days that follow. The allure of screens, the hypnotic glow of televisions, and the immersive worlds of video games pose a threat to the beauty of face-to-face family interaction. The challenge lies in maintaining the deliberation, carving out time amidst the rush of modern life to put down the screens, pause the digital noise, and sit with one another; sometimes enjoying words and activities, but sometimes sharing the experience of the comforting presence of another in the healing power of quiet, non-distracted thought.
By doing so, we ensure that the warmth and feelings of the season extend far beyond the calendar — cementing bonds, satisfying the longing for connection, and sensitizing us to the presence of eternal truths. As we unplug from the digital cacophony, we plug into the deeper currents of relationship and connection that point us to the divine in our midst, reaffirming that face-to-face interaction is not just a choice, but an imperative as we reflect on God choosing to come to earth to dwell among us.
The “Emmanuel — God with us” awareness in this season empowers the joy and comfort of being with one another in His presence in every season.
Mark Hancock is the CEO of Trail Life USA, a character, leadership, and adventure organization that is both Christ-centered and boy-focused. Trail Life USA partners with churches and parents across America as the premier national character development organization for young men which produces generations of godly and responsible husbands, fathers, and citizens. In over 1,100 churches in all 50 states, fathers and sons are connecting, relationships are deepening, and legacies are beginning as a new generation of godly leaders rises.
Trent Talbot is a follower of Jesus Christ, which fuels his role as a dedicated father and husband, as well as his newest venture as the CEO of BRAVE books. Once a doctor of ophthalmology, Trent left his career of helping people see better to helping our world see the importance of traditional family values better by founding BRAVE Books. As a visionary with a contagious dedication to his work, Trent’s genius storytelling has created a one-of-a-kind universe called Freedom Island. Trent’s inspiration stems from his wife and three children and a dream that they will grow and thrive in this world with traditional American values as the foundation for generations to come.
Original op-ed piece published by The Christian Post. Click Here
For a fun way to talk with kids about moderation in the use of electronics and screens check out Trail Life's collaboration with BRAVE Books in the new children's book Too Much Tubular!