Why you should keep Christmas around, even if you’re a Scrooge
I write this first column on Christmas night because by the time this goes to print some of you have kicked your farm-grown Christmas tree to the curb, or, without a proper parting, will unceremoniously leave the green beauty in the woods where it came from as soon as all the presents under it make their way into the household. (I’m not saying evergreens need a funeral, but a parting acknowledgement or moment of silence would be nice.)
And right now, I’m eyeing those who bag their artificial gem, lights and ornaments in perfect place, up in the attic. You and I know you are somehow cheating Christmas and, depending on my energy level, I am either admiring you or looking upon you with disdain as if I’m the guy waiting to pay the toll while you zip through with your FASTPASS.
The church technically just ended the season of Advent. In other words, Christmas actually starts now—not ends. The word Advent comes from the Latin root ‘ven’ and its variant ‘vent.’ Both mean to “come.” Christ is coming in December; His birthday is not Black Friday with the party to follow.
But most of us don’t see it that way. We want Christmas in December only. “Move on, people” we hear our culture (and ourselves) say. Valentine marketing starts by MLK Day, if not sooner. Keep up with those Joneses. Red heart wreaths need to bedazzle your front doors soon.
Listen to the ones who mourn the end of Christmas, whenever it comes. You know (or you are) the person who gets a little sad when boxing away “the most wonderful time of the year” because for all of us, even the sad, December is the most wonderful time of the year.
Case and point. At a two-lane traffic light on the Wednesday before The Day, I pull alongside a big, bearded, not so chummy looking lumberjack type—someone I would not ordinarily “chat up,” least of all at a traffic light—yet because he has a big dog enjoying both windows open in the back seat, I slide my window down and, in being a lover of Man’s Best Friend, I call out, “Hey, I like your dog!”
Instantly, the guy who when gray could be the wooly mean one in the Rudolf TV classic, starts sharing the wonderful attributes of his backseat buddy. I do not know this guy, but those behind us could think in our 30-second chat up that we’ve been besties since elementary school.
Why did this happen? You know the answer. Christmas. You’ve experienced this, too. Even you Scrooges have had a gleeful moment. Yes, I said gleeful.
So, don’t put it away. Don’t go back to drudgery or dreary days. I am not advocating that you keep your Christmas lights on and lit until April; heaven help you; but I am saying what I did Christmas Eve in my message: keep joy within you. Keep light within you. It’s a choice you can make.
Personally, I’ve been hit hard and will be in therapy ASAP. Christmastime hurt this year. But I’m saying what you know, and I’m including us broken ones. We have a choice. Choose to keep the Christmas spirit alive.
If you’re at a traffic light talking to the big, bearded one with the dog and I’m behind you, I won’t beep my horn when the light turns green. Instead, I’ll look for my own conversation partner in the stranger and keep joy where you can keep it, too, and that is between all of us.
This is the first column I’ve written under what is called KEEPING THE PACE: encouragement for your everyday walk (Phil 4:13). This was published on December 27, 2107 for the Susquehanna Independent. (This photo is for the blog hog. It did not accompany the column.)