“In America do you say Merry Christmas or Happy New Year on December 27?” A friend of mine asked me this question after she was rudely chastised that after December 25 the proper salutation relates to the New Year coming up.
For weeks (in retail for months) we prepare for Christmas. Gifts are purchased, decorations displayed, and parties seem endless. THE DAY comes and goes, and we move immediately to the next thing. Looking back on the year that was and making resolutions for the upcoming year fills the news and our conversations beginning on December 26. Whatever happened to the season of Christmas? Yes, Virginia, there is such a season.
The season of Christmas is filled with fun traditions, odd celebrations, and folklore. Some historians contend the Twelve Days of Christmas poem and song is filled with hidden meanings passed along for centuries due to religious persecution. I wonder if 10 Lords-A-Leaping really does stand for the 10 commandments. Maybe? Maybe not. The NY Times made its annual report on the cost of purchasing everything from the partridge to the drummers. $44,602 – a slight increase over last year. (Note: leave out the golden rings for a big cost savings.) Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night was written to close the Christmas season on January 6. Many church staffs are beginning serious planning this week for Lent and Easter. Why don’t we bask in the manger’s perfect light before heading down the road to the cross?
I fear too often we live in anticipation without experiencing the joy when we arrive. There is a letdown the day after Christmas when there ought to be continued celebration. Ripped wrapping paper and left overs should remind us of the day we kicked off the Christmas season. Even the celebration of administrative professionals has grown from one day to a full week.
A couple of days ago we celebrated Emmanuel, God with us. Is it possible to use these 12 days to reflect on what incarnation means in our lives? God the son took on human flesh and human nature. Epiphany will be here soon enough when the proclamation of the Gospel begins. We know how the story of Jesus’ earthly life ends. There will be time to observe those solemn days with the incredible ending. For now I’m going to do what is so difficult and rewarding. Join me in living in the moment, in the season of Christmas. Keep singing Joy to the Word and saying Merry Christmas.
Merry Christmas, still!