Yes. I guess you could say that. Although for me, there is something about being off of work and even being back at work but void of students that still signals “Christmas!” I’m certain it has to do with the Higher Ed mentality. I’m sure of it. I know that in the summer, there is a bit for a break for me; each fall and spring when those extended times of “rest” come. I’m sure that’s why to me, it’s still Christmas.
But perhaps I’m wrong. I see and hear of people taking down Christmas decorations, having the winter blues now that the holidays have past and feeling a sense of restlessness now that all the celebrations are behind us. I guess I can see what folks are saying–there is such hubbub, such pageantry with Christmas that sometimes (myself included) we forget the entire reason for Christmas, so when all the “holiday cheer” passes, there’s a bit of sadness that comes with that. How quickly we forget that Christmas is not about seeing family and friends, gathering for big meals, spending hours perfecting new recipes and pulling out old standards. It’s not about hours of rehearsal for Christmas services, shopping for that perfect gift, and trying out all the new wrapping and decorating techniques one has found on Pinterest.
So if that’s NOT Christmas, then what is? It’s anticipation. Epiphany.
Ever had an epiphany? That a-ha or light bulb moment? I had one earlier this year. I continue to reference how that has shaped many of my conversations, prayers and thoughts over the past few months. I think about that morning, sitting on my couch having my morning coffee with God when He really opened an area of my heart I had been so closed off to. I remember driving to work that day in tears so overwhelmed with what God was birthing in my life.
Christmas is about a birth also. But not just the birth–the anticipation of that thing–that person–that changes everything. Having many friends who have had (or are expecting) babies, the anticipation, the preparation and celebration isn’t just on the day of birth. There’s a long time of preparing, painting rooms, updating gift registries, discussing parenting styles and expecting what life with that little one will be like.
So we celebrate Jesus’ birth. We attend Christmas eve services, make a birthday cake for Jesus (heard of so many more families that are doing this! Our cake was always red velvet with a miniature manger scene on top of the cream cheese frosting), sing “O, Holy Night.” Then we go home, attend those holiday dinners, rip open the gifts without the slightest idea how much time and labor was spent on those bows and then we’re done. We go home, take the Christmas CD’s out of the player, change the Pandora station, put the holiday movies back in storage and then once we’ve mustered up enough energy, we pull those storage bins out and start putting those decorations up. No more lights. No more mistletoe. No more candy canes. Christmas is over.
But how quickly we forget! Advent doesn’t end with Christmas. Christmas is just the beginning!
One of my dear friends just recently had her first baby in October. I went to the hospital the morning after she was born. 24 hours earlier, that little darling was still cozied up in her mama’s belly. We celebrated God’s goodness that day. And when I saw them at our Christmas Eve service at church, I was just as excited to see that little bundle of joy. The celebrating doesn’t end with something new and exciting and straight from God.Christmas begins with Christmas Day December 25 and lasts for Twelve Days until Epiphany, January 6, which looks ahead to the mission of the church to the world in light of the Nativity. (http://www.crivoice.org/cyepiph.html) The mission of the church to the world in light of the Nativity.
This is the climax of the Christmas season. I wasn’t wrong–it IS still Christmas! Get the lights back out, deck those halls–it’s still Christmas!
I love holiday traditions. I love celebrating all season and holidays. I want to be better next holiday season remembering the true meaning of the seasons–Advent, Christmas, Epiphany–and not give in to the commercialized hubbub. I have improved this year, but there is till a long way to go. Lighting the advent wreath, reading the advent readings in our home, opening one (small) gift each day from Christmas to Epiphany.
So how will YOU celebrate this awesome ending (that is really a beginning) to such a wonderful season. How do you typically celebrate something really exciting? Have a party! We just so happened to have invited some folks over for dinner on January 6th–completely coincidental. But now, I think I’ll be planning a dinner party every year on January 6th. And not feeling so badly that my tree typically stays up through mid-January. There was a reason all a long, I just didn’t know it. And when I say “Happy Holidays”–you’ll know the reason there also.
Happy Holidays, ya’ll!