Well, the turkey and stuffing have been eaten. The pumpkin pie is three-quarters gone and calling to me from the fridge. The laughter from last night’s meal is just a memory. I slept in way too late to make it to any crazy Black Friday sales (although I will go to Costco for a free cookbook!) But the first thing out of my daughter’s mouth this morning was, “Oh…now we start Christmas!”
I have to be honest that it made me cringe. I wanted to cry out, “We don’t start Christmas…we enter into the ADVENT season soon!!” There is a difference and when they blend together, I don’t think we live in either season well. I was reading Amy over at Splendor in the Ordinary where she titled a post “Christmas has devoured Advent”. I agree…I feel like all the glitter, ornaments and trumpery of Christmas has consumed the discipline and preparation of Advent.
In The End of Advent, Joseph Bottum writes
Christmas has devoured Advent, gobbled it up with the turkey giblets and the goblets of seasonal ale. Every secularized holiday, of course, tends to lose the context it had in the liturgical year. Across the nation, even in many churches, Easter has hopped across Lent, Halloween has frightened away All Saints, and New Year’s has drunk up Epiphany.
Still, the disappearance of Advent seems especially disturbing—for it’s injured even the secular Christmas season: opening a hole, from Thanksgiving on, that can be filled only with fiercer, madder, and wilder attempts to anticipate Christmas.
He goes on to talk about Advent being a discipline – “a way of forming anticipation and channeling it toward its goal.“ And that “a season of contrition and sacrifice prepares us to understand and feel something about just how great the gift is when at last the day itself arrives. “
As for our household, we want to try to put Christmas in its place this year (with TRY being the opportune word!!) We have already decided not to put our tree up until the second or third week of December. We will make a Jesse Tree centerpiece for the table and use it in nightly readings/activities to lead us in anticipation toward Christmas. We are going to try a fast of some sort during the Advent season so we can more enjoy the feasting of the Christmas season. And we are going to have “A Walk to Bethlehem” – an experiential storytelling event – using the O Antiphons as our guide. (I’ll post more about this tomorrow…and pictures after Sunday!)
O Lord, let us live well in each season in its time. Help us to not lag behind nor rush forward to the next thing, but rather to engage with You and Your story in each season. Let us see the beauty of creation, the tragedy of sin and the long cry of a people waiting for a Savior to free them. Let us hear the patriarchs and the prophets, the angels and the heralds, and help us to take it all in. Form us, once again, by Your story and Your Spirit.