Friday, November 26, 2010

My Christmas Time-Table is Uncompromising and Judgmental

I hate to inconvenience everyone’s jolly consumerism and tireless decorating, or foist my religious traditions on your secular holiday, but let me just air my grief over the warping of the Christmas calendar that gets worse every year. When I see my entire block lit up with twinkle lights a full week before Thanksgiving, when I hear LightFM playing 24/7 Christmas Carols, starting November 1st, when I get my first Christmas card the second week of November…it starts to annoy me. Then, on December 26th, when I see tinsel-clad evergreens already on the curb, Delilah goes back to "Your favorites from the 80’s, 90’s, and Today," and my neighbor is already on the roof pulling down their lights, it officially drives me nuts.

You’re welcome to co-opt my celebration of the Incarnation (a festival which we had, until recently, so successfully co-opted from the pagans), if you would, please, just get the timing right. There are two important things to remember. Advent is the four weeks before Christmas and Christmas is 12 days long. If you choose a warm October day to put up your outdoor lights, I can respect that – just please, refrain from lighting them until, at the soonest, Thanksgiving night. And if you can’t wait until January 6th to take it all down, I understand; you do have to go back to work and school, after all. But can we compromise and wait until New Year’s Day? I’m sure it will multiply the entertainment value, if my neighbors have to climb on the roof with a hangover, after all.

It is a struggle for myself, and as a parent, to keep Christmas in perspective. With every birth and marriage, our family enlarges and our shopping list grows, threatening our budget and overwhelming our time and focus. The growing darkness of shortened days can feed my sense of hurry and offset the fun of gathering with friends and loved ones. The stress to prepare everyone’s favorite side dish at the big meal can overshadow the good times of pouring too much champagne in Grandma’s flute and seeing what happens. There are so many things that happen between Thanksgiving and New Year’s that are completely out of my control, but one thing I can control is when I light up the tree, when I break out Elf, and when I pack it all away for next year.

I’m trying hard to keep Christ at the center of our celebration. I’m trying hard to instill in our kids the serious and delightful meaning of preparing our houses and hearts for the Savior’s arrival. I want them to understand that for God to come to Earth is worth a huge celebration, without letting that celebration bleed out into meaningless chaos. One place where that starts, for me, is teaching them about Advent and the 12 Days. Maybe I’m up tight. It’s been said before. But if all you jingle-bellers would cooperate, it would
 certainly help!

But when the time was right, God sent his Son, and a woman gave birth to him. His Son obeyed the Law, so he could set us free from the Law, and we could become God's children. Galatians 4:4-5


  1. Emily,

    We initiated a great new concept when we first had kids. The tree doesn't go up till the 3rd Sunday of Advent and we each only open one gift per day of the 12 days of Christmas (or until they are gone). This evens out the Christmas Day "bash" over a longer period and creates excitement over the real Christmas season! (saw a link to your blog on FB)

  2. Wow! That is some serious, counter-cultural discipline! I applaud your effort and hope you are seeing your dedication bear fruit in your kids; I'm sure those lessons affect far more than just their appreciation of Christmas.