Once again we come to that time of the year when we hear some people lament the early appearance of Christmas decorations in stores and holiday commercials on TV. More often than not the objections are either that the season has arrived too early or that we have forgotten to place Christ in Christmas.
While I agree that we perhaps begin our Christmas celebrations too early, I do so simply because I believe we have forgotten that every feast ought to be preceded by a period of preparation. We can’t fully appreciate a holiday if our lives are constantly drawn from one party to another. There is wisdom in the Church’s tradition of keeping the Advent season. We need time to reflect, pray and fast so as to fully appreciate the Christmas feast.
This is a difficult concept to embrace in our consumerist-driven society. We are told that we must always be happy. And to be happy, we must surround ourselves with things or enjoy luxuries that only a couple of decades ago we did not have. As a result of this never-ending drive for happiness, our Advent preparations are replaced by sumptuous Christmas parties, delightful treats and shopping sprees to find the “perfect” gifts for friends and family. In the end, Christmas Day simply becomes a bookend for the season. We tear open our gifts, enjoy the final feast and begin to figure out when to return those things we really didn’t want.
I wonder then, if we really do believe that Christmas begins too early, are we willing to temper our festivities and to truly mark the days and weeks leading up to Christmas as a time for prayerful preparation for the great feast?
-Don Beyers, Relationship Manager