Savor the Season

How was your Christmas? Chances are you started seeing the decorations going up in shops in October, or even September. It seems like the Christmas season shifts forward every year. One year to protest the season creep I bought candy canes and gave them out for Halloween. I confused a lot of trick or treaters that year.

But that’s over now. We’ve moved on. The Christmas presents have been opened. In some cases they’re now broken or exchanged. And the whole thing is becoming a memory. We’re a society that looks ahead for the next thing. We count down to holidays, movie releases, iPhone releases, and so on.  Christmas music is symptomatic of the way we view the holiday. It’s played nonstop for more than a month on the radio, then the day after, it’s just gone.

But wait a minute. Why the rush? Why are we always moving headlong into the future.No, really. One year my wife and I ran to the store on Christmas Eve to buy some treats for our daughter’s stocking. The clerk in the seasonal aisle pointed us to the discount carts and went back to arranging the Valentine’s Day candy. ON CHRISTMAS EVE, PEOPLE!

Let’s look at what the Christmas season used to be. Somewhere around Dec. 20 or so, people began getting a tree, and making a few gifts for friends. Dec. 25 was the day we have decided to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. This holiday began a celebration that lasted almost two weeks (hence the 12 days of Christmas). The last day was Jan. 6, Epiphany. This holiday marks the visit of the three wise men. When I was in France, I was invited into a home for Epiphany (La fete des rois—the celebration of the kings). We had a cake. Inside was a small porcelain crown. The person who found it received a little plastic one to wear. It was in my piece, and I still have my crown, tucked away in my journal.

Instead of only one day, which gives lip service to the birth of our Savior, but in reality has become the biggest shopping event of the year, there were 12 days to reflect on the most important birth. According to that, today is really the fifth day of Christmas.We’re about halfway through the celebration.

I say, slow down and enjoy the moment. We decided to slow things down a bit at our house. Yes, the presents have all been opened. Our children have eaten almost everything that was in their stockings (and ours), but we’re still taking time to recognize this special season. We’ll read a talk about Jesus Christ. We’ll still sing about peace on earth and good will toward men. And our tree isn’t going down until our children have all ready been back in school for a few days. So while the rest of the world starts filling out Valentine’s Day cards, we’ll be wishing a merry Christmas for another week or so.

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