Celebrate all of the season

Make time for all 12 days of Christmas

Dec 23, 2019 by

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As the season of Advent escalates to its apex on Christmas Day, it is a good time to remember Christ’s birth can and should be celebrated well after no more shopping days remain.

Commercial interests drive the American impulse to leap headlong into the 25th of December so early, Advent turns into Christmas itself. A season of hopeful waiting becomes a checklist to get done.

As Charlie Brown says in his television Christmas special, “Christmas is coming, but I’m not happy. I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel. I just don’t understand Christmas, I guess.”

A month of vacuuming up dead pine needles is an ironic way to prepare the way for the coming King. By the time Boxing Day rolls round Dec. 26, trees that were “fresh-cut” in time for November shoppers symbolize decay instead of new life.

While most anyone can recount that Day 5 holds the promise of “five gold rings,” many carolers likely don’t know “The Twelve Days of Christmas” begin — rather than end — on Christmas Day. The first day of Christmas, Dec. 25, begins the season of Christmastide, which continues through Jan. 5, Epiphany Eve.

People in many other parts of the world take Christmastide seriously and celebrate God with us, Immanuel, at the same time their North American sisters and brothers in Christ drag trees to the curb and cram shredded wrapping and packaging into dumpsters. We can do well to likewise stretch the season. The schools are still on vacation.

Decorate cookies on the 26th. Eat them on the 27th. Sing “Joy to the World” — for the Lord has come, past-tense — on the 28th. Get the fruitcake back out before repacking it again for another year on the 29th. Light a candle on the 30th.

“For God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (Gen. 1:3) and “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5).

At every other birthday party, candles are lit and quickly blown out. Ironically, we mark becoming a year older by extinguishing living flames.

But the candles of Advent and Christmas — Christ’s birthday — are lit to keep shining. Let them burn on, because Christmas shouldn’t end on Christmas.


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