Did we really spend 30 days preparing for only one day of celebration? Isn’t there supposed to be a season of Christmas?
The retail world does its best to crowd Christmas buying into November and December — the earlier the better — to assure a strong end to the year’s business. The retail theme is buying as preparation for Christmas, while the theme of Advent is remembering as preparation for Christmas — remembering why we celebrate Christmas.
So, the promotional 12th day of Christmas is Dec. 25 (or December 24) to assure that things will be wrung out well in advance. But Dec. 25 is the first day of Christmas, not the last. Christmas is the beginning of something completely new, not the day to put everything back in the box — because we are sick of it, having lived with it since Thanksgiving Day. The 12 days of Christmas, Dec. 25 through Jan. 6, builds on the time of preparation to be a season of sharing and enjoyment.
The 12th day of Christmas, Jan. 6, the day by which most New Year’s resolutions are abandoned in discouragement, is a Christian holiday that is older than Christmas. The celebration of Epiphany is based on the understanding of the first Christian disciples that the baby born in the manger in Bethlehem is God’s promised gift to the world of the Savior. God was living among humans as one of us.
So, when it would be nice to rest from the season of preparation and to enjoy the season of Christmas, the music is gone Dec. 26. As abruptly as it began, it is ended. The promoters begin tearing everything down to prepare for a big football game in January.
The Christmas season and Epiphany reveal what is wrong with being so tired of all the hype that we can’t wait for it to be over, to put things back in the box, to go back to normal. When people recognize the gift of Christmas and follow the Savior’s invitation, then there can be no going back. The holiday is an annual reminder that Christmas changes everything going forward. The call is forward and ever onward in abundant life, practicing peace and goodwill among our neighbors, for as long as we are alive here, and until we are called for everlasting life.
In Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, even the worldly Mr. Scrooge, after coming to his understanding, resolved to keep Christmas in his heart and remember it every day of the year.
The writer of Ecclesiastes says that everything is beautiful in its time (3:11a). Let’s work to discover the times for everything, and then enjoy them to the fullest.
If you wonder about any part of the Christmas celebration, then come visit a church congregation Sunday and ask your friends. We are singing and enjoying the Christmas season, and we are working in all ways to keep the spirit of Christmas every day of the year.