Expecting the Upcoming Christmas Season? It’s Only Part of the Waiting Game
Christmas is the annual feast commemorating the birth of Jesus. I’ve always found it remarkably curious how we like to celebrate the occasion way before it occurs. Some of us like to bemoan how the Christmas season starts earlier and earlier each year, egged on by major retailers. But we, as individuals, are just as guilty. This year, I noticed a Christmas tree decked out in a living room window two months ago.
Waiting is sometimes a dirty word, a cause for anger. But I’ll suggest that it’s okay to wait, and perhaps that’s just what we need as Christmas approaches.
After all, we don’t hand out Valentine’s gifts in mid-January. We don’t wear St. Patrick’s Day green throughout February and March. We don’t start celebrating Independence Day on June 1. We don’t celebrate autumn during the dog days of August.
But it’s a Christmas season, some will argue, contending that an elongated celebration is necessary and warranted. I’d say it’s more like a pre-season. Christmas begins on December 25, and “The Twelve Days of Christmas” substantiates part of my belief that we tend to observe Christmas too soon. Besides, I’ve yet to find one person who has celebrated the birth of their child for a solid month before it even happened.
Rather, they wait and prepare.
Just as expectant parents ready their house for the arrival of a new baby, we might do well this pre-season to prepare our hearts for this feast. Advent is the proper name for this time – a season of waiting and preparation for the birth of Jesus.
And even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, there’s nothing wrong with using the final days of 2017 to contemplate the past and make profound changes in our lives for the year ahead. Christmas was born in the heart of God, and the love of God can be born in our hearts too, as long as we prepare for what’s to come.
Sure, holiday parties, TV shows, music, cookies, shopping – it all gets us in the mood. It all certainly has its place, not to mention the fact that the rest of the world operates by commemorating Christmas before it happens. But if “peace on earth” is our goal, then that must comprise harmony. And harmony involves agreement among two or more people. Thus, it takes action on our part to achieve it. Love is not merely saying, it is doing. So, Christmas, as well as our preparation during Advent, is going to take some work!
When peace is born in our hearts during these last days of the year, then we’ll truly be ready for a celebration that should properly last for weeks.
So even if you put up your tree on Thanksgiving, I say keep it up well after Christmas has passed to make it a true, accurate holiday season. The days will be slowly getting longer, and light will be entering into the world – a fitting initiation for this feast. Rejoice by shining those Christmas lights long after the feast. Throw a Christmas party after December 25. Keep playing Bing Crosby even though radio stations have gone back to their regular programming. Bake and decorate some cookies after presents are unwrapped.
And don't let the pre-season distract us from the true meaning of what the approaching Christmas season really is, and can be.