Today is the penultimate day of Christmas. I don’t just say that to justify the eggnog I made two nights ago, or the fact that all the decorations are still strewn about the house. I also have to admit that I was wrong this year. I thought Christmas ended with Epiphany on January 6th. My mother informed me that no, Christmas season continues until the Baptism of the Lord the Sunday after that, but I laughed at her because she’s a little crazy and thinks she knows everything.
I must get that from her.
Well, she was right and I was wrong. And when I found out, this past Thursday at daily Mass, that we were still in the Christmas season– because I was at a school Mass and the priest actually mentioned “Hey have you noticed we still have the decorations up?” my first reaction was one of relief. Wait, I don’t need this mom’s-a-terrible-housekeeper guilt over still having the tree up? Amen!
That night I made myself a honey bourbon eggnog (of course I use raw egg. What else is the bourbon for?) because, hey, ‘Tis the Season, and watched another version of A Christmas Carol. (From 1935, new to me, and in some ways a more interesting Ebenezer than even my beloved Alister Sim.)
Dr. Awesome and I like to watch old movies– really old movies. Last night we treated the kids to some “Classic” color Christmas cartoons from the 1930s. Everyone looked like Olive Oil from Popeye, and everything is really silly slapstick, and we all, from 2 to 37, howled with laughter.
The sweetness of these moments is a treasure to me. And I have to say, I hold on to it, because it is frankly really hard to keep Christmas “opposite” the rest of the world.
Our kids go to a parish school that puts a strong focus on following the liturgical calendar, well, liturgically. That means that after Thanksgiving, when everyone else has started Christmas and is buying trees and having peppermint mochas, we’re called to additional prayer and fasting and avoiding those cookies everywhere. We focus on preparing for the first coming and its still-awaited parallel, the Second Coming. We love the idea of giving each season its proper turn, but it’s so hard to do sometimes!
Because the world has moved on from Christmas, and people want to know, why haven’t we? It’s the same type of reaction we had in Advent, when the world was full-on in “the Christmas spirit” and why weren’t we?
An Advent carriage ride on the 23rd, the day we finally saw Santa. And it was such a perfect day!
For most of December we avoid the radio and stick to CDs. This year I even burned an “Advent songs” CD, which included a few beautiful Advent carols we’ve come to like, and others like “Jingle Bells,” “Frosty and Snowman,” and “Winter Wonderland” that aren’t actually about Christmas. (Even “I’ll be Home for Christmas” is a decent Advent song.) We have made our tradition so far trimming the tree on Gaudete Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent. But last week I learned casually that another family we know waits to trim their tree until Christmas Eve.
And all I could think was, “Wow. I want to be like that.”
I want to be that brave, to tell the world “No, I’m going to do this my own way. The way that I feel is right.” And I’ve already been hinting to Dr. Awesome that maybe next year, we can try it. I know so many people might think it’s strange, or self-righteous, or excessively counter-cultural. But that wouldn’t put me much outside the reaction Christians have garnered for the last 2000 years, would it?
So we keep Christmas for another day and a half around here. And of course, as Dickens pointed out, we may keep it always in our hearts.