Christmas, Don’t Be Early

19 Dec

As a child I really liked the Chipmunks’ Christmas album, including the classic “Christmas Don’t Be Late.” What little kid isn’t eager for Christmas day to finally get here?

However, as Christmas has become more of a secular holiday than a religious celebration in the minds of many, some of the liturgical and theological nuance of the feast has become obscured. In particular, we don’t know exactly what to do with Advent anymore. Our society doesn’t fully appreciate the season as one of joyful anticipation, of vigilant expectation, of penance and spiritual renewal, of recalling Christ’s first and second coming. Heck, the Jews had to wait thousands of years for the first Christmas, but we can’t even wait four weeks!

Where I see this most acutely is in the way we celebrate with Christmas lights, parties, and carols throughout all of Advent, as though it were already the “Christmas season.” In fact, the pc way of greeting people this time of year is by saying “Season’s Greetings.” I’m all for lights, parties, and carols, but not if they take away from the actual celebration of Christmas. By the time Christmas finally rolls around, we’ve had our fill of all these things.

I pray that isn’t the case for us!

In reality, Christmas season only begins on Christmas!  That’s why we have songs like “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Like Easter, Christmas is too important of a feast to celebrate on one day, so it has its own octave (week-long celebration) and season. Yet, once we open our gifts on Christmas, we’re all partied out. We take our trees to the curb on the second day of Christmas, and then we begin the “pseudo-Second Advent” of preparing for New Year’s Day and bowl games.

Everyone celebrates Christmas differently, and that’s wonderful. But I invite all of us to see this present time of Advent as more of a time of preparation, as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

And when Christmas finally arrives, let the celebration really begin–in our hearts, in our homes, and in our parishes and neighborhoods!

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