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Why Christmas is Coming Earlier Each Year; and Why Early Christmas Isn't So Bad
Christmas Earlier? You've Got to be Kidding Me
Christmas seems to be earlier about coming each year. By saying that, I mean the "Christmas-type" objects, symbols, and rituals seem to be thrown at us earlier than ever these days. By October's end, we are bombarded with stores fully decorated with Christmas trees and all sorts of Christmas décor. Advertising packets called, "Christmas deals" are mailed from all the biggest retail chains. Music and television stations devoted to holiday themed music and movies 24 hours a day suddenly come on air, and those iconic red cups appear at our favorite coffee place.
Many are asking, "What about Thanksgiving?" and "Can't people just wait until it is officially the Christmas season before decorating?" and "Why must we celebrate Christmas earlier each year?"
I"ve noticed with these questions comes ranting, moaning, eye rolling, and even pronouncement of rigid "Christmas Rules". These rules include (but are by no means limited to): no lights hung until Thanksgiving meal is digested, Christmas trees aren't to be seen or plugged in until December 1, and absolutely no Christmas music is to be played, sung, or hummed until the end of November. No exceptions. Bah humbug.
Haters of Early Christmas
So why the hatred for early Christmas? Here's where I am guessing the resentment comes from:
1. People like Thanksgiving. It's a national holiday and a sacred day/ month of Thankfulness. And rightfully so! Sharing what we are grateful for while spending time with family and friends is a beautiful experience. Add the thankful spirit to Aunt Mary's turkey stuffing and Mom's pies and football and you have a marvelous combo and a sweet holiday. Many people dislike the fact that Thanksgiving isn't given as much advertisement as Christmas. It's being outshined by the actual Christmas trees draping major stores from mid-October through January.
2. People like rules. People tend to like predictability and lean toward "everything has it's time and place" mentality. Early Christmas seems weird. When it's 60 degrees outside, people can't wrap their minds around hanging holiday garland and humming Christmas carols. They can't link past memories to Christmas in October or November.
3. "It's just wrong". Hang out at the shopping mall and tally how many times you hear this statement said while people are passing Christmas displays galore. Also, tally how many times you hear similar sounding gripes like, "Why must every store be decorated for Christmas already?" and "Can't they wait until after Christmas like they are supposed to?" You'll have a lot of tally marks. Early Christmas is ticking people off.
4. People like to "savor the season". Along with tucking holidays and memories in their rightful traditional place, people like to save special things for Christmas... the music, the family outings to the tree farm, the holiday baking, the gift wrapping parties, the major money spending....
Early Christmas: Why Not
I am a rational person who is more than willing to hear your side of the argument, but when I think of early Christmas, I honestly think, "Why not".
Seeing past the advertising blitzes and the Christmas trees clogging the aisles, I can think the following to be true.
I believe Early Christmas isn't all that bad because Christmas embraces many good and wholesome and wonderful parts of humanness that frankly could use more time being practiced.
Our need for hope, love, reconciliation, freedom, peace, acceptance, and others-centered action is stronger than ever. And the desire is innate in our hearts and souls. Since Christmas is a time when these virtues are practiced more readily, we are desiring, we are needing in fact, to push this season to a larger scope. We really want and need and long for lives filled with the "Christmas Spirit".
We live in a day and age and world where we are in constant wait for signs of hope. We long to see signs of people practicing genuine love: to us, to our family, to anyone. We desire peace, all the more since we live in a world which seems to be groaning with war and pain and sickness. We desire sympathy: for the hardships we are facing, for the hurt we see around us, for the suffering of ones far away. We are grasping to build relationships and hope to reconcile others long lost.
We desperately want to practice "others-centerdness", but feel trapped by our own hurts, guilt, and failures and instead spend time and energy hiding behind our false selves at work and even among those close to us.
We buy pillows and wall hangings that say, "Peace. Hope. Love" and we wish these would come to us and stay not only for the Holidays but forever because we are needing them to be practiced day in and day out in our homes, our work place, our churches, our communities, our world.
We plug in lights and light candles because they are happy and bright because we are intentionally trying to drive out the darkness of the sadness, the mundane, the depression, and the failures around us.
We are a broken people in a broken world and we need hope. We want to hear songs of redemption, because our souls need redemption. Songs labeled as "Christmas songs" mostly are songs about hope and redemption and sacrifice and love. "O Holy Night" says,"A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn," and later, "He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger," and, "Chains He shall break, for the slave is our brother. And in His name all oppression shall cease". Sound like familiar prayers of our world? A longing for One who knows our needs, Who breaks chains and stops oppression?
Another traditional Christmas song, "O Come oh Come Emmanuel," is not just about Jesus's birth, but about His ongoing redemption of His people. These words make up just one verse of the song, "O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer our spirits by Thine advent here. Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, And death's dark shadows put to flight. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel." The song speaks of the wails of God's people for redemption from darkness, death, slavery, and hatred. And the hope found in the song, Jesus, is not just a baby, but a God who fights for His people.
"Silent Night, Holy Night" says, "all is calm and all is bright". We want calm and bright for ourselves.
So, come Christmas come. Be in November, October, March, or August, Christmas is about hope, about reconciliation, about love. These certainly are year long needs in my heart. I am guessing they are in yours as well.
O Holy Night Musical Peformance
I enjoyed this version of "O Holy Night". Bass, xylophone, drums, piano, and voice combine for a beautiful orchestral sound. The song simmers until about minute 4, then the instruments all combine for a more triumphant feel.
Further Thoughts on the Topic
1. I look forward to the red cup designs at Starbucks.
2. Christmas trees are happy and bright.
3. Sales are nice, no matter when they hit the retail chains.
4. Red and green are beautiful colors.
5. Jesus wasn't likely born on exactly December 25th anyway.
6. Holiday cheer is a good thing to practice. Anytime. Anywhere. With anyone.
7. Santa probably shouldn't be seen until at least Dec. 1st
8. If Christmas is about celebrating Jesus's birthday, why would it be bad or wrong to celebrate early or longer? I, for one, never try to limit celebrations of my birthday. And He, of all birthdays ever, should be able to be celebrated for as long as possible.
9. I think white or pink or blue lights can certainly be hung whenever you want to, wherever you want to. Especially if they make you happy or pull a room together in that magical sort of way.
10. The world needs more peace, hope, joy, and love. Jesus offers all of these.