So as soon as I saw the Grumpy Cat T-shirt, I knew I had to buy it for my Christmas party; wearing it would be the perfect expression of my paradoxical attitude to Christmas.
|Mmhm, those classy Christmas feels.|
On the other hand, there is something of a Grinch or a Grumpy Cat in me. (Some would say that is reflected in my "December only!" attitude. But actually I would argue that this is because Christmas loses its special-ness if it's dragged out from October or November. Therefore, keeping Christmas in December guards its sense of beauty and sacredness. Just me? Anyway... Maybe it's a personality thing?)
The awful cheesy Christmas movies. Those inquires about your relationship status from relatives worried about why you aren't married yet and the state of your womb. The shopping in uncomfortably crowded stores. The stress. The bank balance. The inability to feel the magic or warm fuzzies of your childhood. (Certain friends would add "tearing ligaments slipping on ice" and "getting mild concussion from falling snow-laden branches" to this list.)
Do you find the Christmas spirit a little more elusive for you now, as well? Sometimes I wonder why that is. Perhaps we all have different answers.
|The four candles represent hope, peace,|
love, and joy.
Advent (meaning "coming") is the period of four weeks of expectation leading up to Christmas. Although not every denomination emphasizes its celebration, for Christians Advent is traditionally a time to prepare our hearts for the season, to think about the deeper meaning of Christmas beyond consumerism and sentiment.
As a child, I remember the excitement of opening the windows of my little Advent calendar every day. We had a family Advent calendar too, that my mother had made, with a special story or activity for each day of December.
Then we kids grew up and moved away, and I stopped thinking about Advent. Certainly when I was in college, I had a million things to do and exams to take in the run-up to Christmas, and that took priority in my thoughts. Now, I am busy with work and various other projects and seem to stumble upon Christmas at the last moment. "Oh, is that the date?!" A few days ago, my mother asked me if I had come across any nice Advent readings I might share to welcome the Sabbath. "I don't read anything for Advent," I told her. And then I felt a tiny bit bad.
Pondering the meaning of the holiday isn't high on my to-do list. I don't try to make the season so special any more. Isn't this simply practical, adult life?
|Life. Adulting. Bah humbug!|
Perhaps that is a loss. Perhaps there would be merit in celebrating Advent again somehow. To take that time to slow down and genuinely think, "What are the deeper, spiritual meanings and lessons of this season? Who is Jesus? What does it mean to welcome Immanuel -- God with us, God with me?"
Perhaps we can't expect the magic of Christmas just to "happen" anymore. Perhaps Christmas, like a good relationship, a passion project, or anything worthwhile (as the saying goes), takes some work. But not simply the kind of work in putting up a tree or throwing a Christmas party. Some heart work.
Somehow, I think that real Christmas spirit doesn't have to be showy or sickeningly sentimental. Perhaps it can be a quiet, simple sense of peace, gratitude, hope, and joy.
So, how will you fight for joy, not just in this Christmas season but in your life? How can you recover a sense of wonder and thankfulness, and your heart?
After all, even the Grinch recovers his heart for Christmas in the end.