Friday, December 21, 2012

7 Quick Takes (Vol. 22): Is it Advent or Christmas?

Last weekend my in-laws came to visit. "Are you going to have a tree?" my mother-in-law asked. "Yes! You walked right by it!" To be fair, it was still bound up from the tree farm and leaning against our Japanese maple in the front yard. I guess she has a good reason to have missed it. :-)

Tonight, my dad and husband gave it a fresh cut and got it upright in the tree stand. There are perks to being pregnant around Christmas, no? My only responsibility was to be in a cute picture with my son. (Sadly, the overalls, which belonged to my brother, are too small, but Peter fit in them long enough to be photographed.)

Tomorrow, my husband will string on the lights. We'll actually hang the ornaments during the day on the 24th, then plan to leave the tree up for the entirety of the liturgical Christmas season. It ends on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, celebrated on January 13 in 2013. Here's hoping the needles hang on that long!

I'm glad I didn't give in to my desire to have everything done before the baby arrives. For one thing, the baby won't be overdue until 1/20, so there's not much reason to expect the baby early. Also, I like the season of Advent. I like the time of mindful waiting, of anticipating the coming of Christ - not only celebrating His Incarnation, but looking forward to His glorious return.

Too often, Advent becomes Christmas. The month of December is spent celebrating Jesus' birth or with gift exchanges and holiday parties that celebrate the secular while ignoring the sacred. I don't object to some early Christmas festivities (in fact, I've been singing carols as lullabies this month), but I think it should be interspersed with reminders that we are still waiting.

Our crib scene has no Christ Child in it yet. Our tree is only up this "early" so that it has time to settle before we hang the ornaments. My conversations with Peter have compared Advent to waiting for our baby to be born; we really want it to happen, but it's not time yet! The few secular decorations we have are still packed, to be put out on the 24th.

We also try to fully celebrate the Christmas season (nearly three weeks of it, this year!), continuing carols and readings and special treats. Our culture celebrates Christmas for the month of December, putting everything away and moving on before the new year. Our Church reminds us that there is a time and season for everything. Let Advent be Advent. Then, enjoy Christmas!

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