Friday, December 16, 2005

'tis the Season

It is the Season of Christmas, most of our world would say. Why, you ask, would they say that? Well, of course, because our society is conditioned to say that. And it is conditioned, interestingly enough, by the marketing of everything. In other words, our entire culture seems to be led by the world of marketing and consumerism. We know that it is the Christmas season precisely because the stores have their Christmas stuff up (after all, Thanksgiving was weeks ago), and the lights are up on every neighbor's house.

Now, I'm not a "bah, humbug" type of person in general, but in my meager attempt to keep Christmas confined to the proper season and not to lose Advent, I do not go in for this Christmas hype. There are no Christmas carols playing on the stereo at my house. There is no Christmas tree standing in my living room. There are no Christmas parties happening at my place this next week.

Now, you think, that sure sounds like he's a grinch. What about his poor children, his poor wife? In reality, I'm just waiting to celebrate Christmas when it is time. Our tree doesn't usually go up actually on Christmas Eve’, but mostly that's just pragmatic. So much is going on Christmas Eve' that we would never get it up--so it goes up either during that day, or perhaps a day before or so. Perfect world, though?? Christmas Eve.

Also on Christmas Eve': Out come the Christmas CD's, the decorations, the crèche, etc. Why? Because I'm tired of having my religious traditions defined for me by Wal-Mart and Target. Christmastide is the twelve days of Christmas--beginning on Christmas, not on Thanksgiving!

I suppose the song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas" doesn't get sung anymore, but surely kids these days who do hear it are asking: "Twelve days of Christmas?? What's that?" Or perhaps it's "Oh, that must be the 12 days of after Christmas Sales that go on."

Oh, and let's not forget that after Christmastide (during which all manner of Christmas parties should be hosted and attended and carols sung and listened to) comes Epiphany--the Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles. Of course, our modern culture has co-opted that holy day too. "We Three Kings of Orient Are" is sung on Christmas Eve' when everyone knows that the wise men came later. January sixth is the celebration of the wise men's visit to the Christ Child--Christ being made manifest to the Gentiles, whom are represented by the wise men. This is the event from which we get the tradition of gift-giving--but of course, we have to shove everything into one crazy day.

The Christmas tree comes down on Epiphany, but usually, in our culture, it's been down for a week before that and Christmas is forgotten in the rush to celebrate New Year's--which, by the way, is the Holy Day known as The Circumcision of Christ.

So, I suppose that I'm one of the very few who will continue to try to hold out against the forces of Marketing and Advertising and celebrate the Church seasons the way the Church set them up and not corporate America. I'll continue to get strange looks and have to explain a lot to my children. But, one never knows...perhaps my children will understand that Santa Claus was a great bishop of Christ's Church who cared more for others than he did for himself and was known for continuous and selfless giving to the poor as well as strong doctrinal integrity. That's better--any day of the week--than Santa as the great cosmic wish giver from the North Pole who graces every department store and every shop window in the nation as we celebrate the incarnation of the God/Man who came that He might die.


Miss Steinberg said...
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Miss Steinberg said...

(Just had to correct my spelling from that last one; trying to hold my goddaughter and type at the same time.)

What about all the enjoyment of anticipation? You certainly miss out on that when Christmas comes suddenly and lasts precisely 12 days.
I agree that our celebration of anything is improved by ignoring whai Wally World has to say --generally improved by ignoring Wal-Mart altogether. But consumerism isn't the only reason to extend a beloved and traditional holiday in our culture.
Call me sentimental.

father foos said...

Ahem....but, well...not to state the obvious too obviously...but isn't that what Advent is all about....??

Miss Steinberg said...

Advent is the season of preparing for Christmas. And down with consumerism! And Christ assumed his disciples would fast, so we ought to do it.
But when Advent means "we don't sing Christmas carols yet, and we do not put up a tree yet," then Advent seems to dampen any anticipation of Christmas, not aid it.

father foos said...

But are you assuming too many of our own cultural assumptions about anticipation of Christmas? The Church has said that anticipating Christmas looks like Advent--and has said it for two thousand years.

Who are we to say the Church has been wrong for two thousand years?

Miss Steinberg said...

Fine, fine, pull out the big guns: the "ancient Church" trump card.
I suppose if I can listen to my Christmas carols for 12 days starting December 25th I won't miss the thirty days before it so much.
This means our parish should have Christmas parties during those twelve days as well.

father foos said...

Twelfth Night Party sounds like fun...