Christmas Has Twelve Days

There are a dozen other things I might just as well be doing right now, enjoying the silence of my in-laws’ house on a very tired day, with Jacob asleep and no one home. But it occurs to me to pursue this quick thought, and if I were a little less lazy I might turn it into an essay.

I can’t help judging people a little for the allergic reaction they have to anything suggestive of Christmas when December 26 rolls around. Music, decorations, it all has to go. Christmas is over! But it’s not. Christmas, at least the Christian season of Christmas, is twelve days long, spanning from the Day of Christmas up until the season of Epiphany rolls around. Twelve days we get to contemplate and rejoice in our King’s birth. And those weeks leading up to it are properly called Advent, but I digress. Anyway, I think it’s telling of our modern and American mindset. It’s completely devoid of depth and permanence, because we don’t know how to do it so it’s not comfortable. Christmas is about frantic preparation, attendance at perfunctory parties, the explosion of Christmas morning presents, and cleaning up the mess.

Reaaaaady…….BAM! And there you have it.

Everything seems like this to me. We are so good at hype and anticipation and planning and then we don’t know how to be in the moment and so things that should have some depth just get old. Toys that could offer months of creative play are boring in a day, and Christmas joy deep enough it needs far more than twelve days to properly contemplate the whole thing gets a cursory nod and then it’s back in the box.

I guess two things have triggered these thoughts… Having hosted Thanksgiving and helped cooking for Christmas this year I’ve noticed just how fast all the weeks of careful preparation of the menu and the kitchen and the table dissolve into a pile of dirty dishes and aging leftover pie you feel obligated to eat. C’est la vie.

The other thing that’s made me realize what a shame it is that we only give Christmas a day of fruition (despite the season of anticipation) is that my project during advent was to devise a way for our family to observe that season in years to come. The basic idea is the Jesse Tree, and so I got to work deciding what characters would appear in our reflections on Christ’s story. I scoured the internet for other people’s lists and then got down to splicing and dicing until mine fit into the 24-28 days of Advent. I was so frustrated! In saving those 28 I was cutting out dozens more. Then it occurred to me that I could get more mileage out of an “advent” calendar if it was a Christmas calendar too, and so I added twelve days in which we could reflect on all that Christ is. Even that was a challenge, summing up that story into twelve ideas: God, Man, Servant, Savior, Victor, Prophet, Priest, King, Emmanuel. Anyway, it just made me realize how much opportunity for depth we have and how much we deprive ourselves of by just not noticing.

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