The holidays seem to come earlier every year. A week ago, Anna and I were standing in Costco, marveling at the Christmas display that was set up. It’s not even October, and already we’ve got inflatable Santas, trees, and lights. Jesus, of course, was conspicuously absent, but Christmas has become so commercialized that Our Lord was kicked to the side long ago.
A number of years ago, I read an article by a Lutheran aptly titled: “Forget the War on Christmas, the War on Advent is Worse.” It lamented the loss of Advent both in our society and in our church. Advent, for many, becomes a generic “Christmas season,” an extension of December 25th with Christmas carols and trees, and not a season of preparation for the Second Coming of Christ and the Resurrection of the Dead. I have to agree. We lament that decorations for Christmas, Halloween, and Thanksgiving appear earlier and earlier every year, but in our own devotional practice you and I tend to truncate one of the greatest seasons of the church, occasionally annoyed that we don’t get to sing Christmas carols on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings leading up to the 25th. You and I complain about seasonal decorations appearing in stores in September, but then we turn around and do the same thing liturgically.
As the seasons begin to change, and as the weather begins to cool, there’s something to be said for your grandmother’s old maxim, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” We’re mortal beings, and we don’t have much time on this earth. We only have so many seasons to live through, and then we go to be with Christ. Why not enjoy the season for the season? Why try and skip forward to a holiday that’s eventually coming? I find that if I start celebrating Christmas the day after Thanksgiving, by the time Christmas actually rolls around some of the magic has been lost. Same goes for Thanksgiving, and Halloween. In making the entire season special, you lose the importance of the day.
This year, I urge all of us (myself certainly included) to rejoice in the proper seasons. Let Halloween be Halloween, Thanksgiving be Thanksgiving, Advent be Advent, and Christmas be Christmas. There’s plenty of time to celebrate all of them. 12 days is more than enough for Christmas, just as one is more than enough for Thanksgiving and Halloween. We shouldn’t celebrate Thanksgiving at Halloween, or Christmas during Advent, or Halloween on July 4th. Instead of a generic holiday season, we should celebrate a season of specific holidays. Let’s enjoy the changing weather, the gatherings with friends and family, and let’s rejoice at a God who gives us times of celebration and seasonal changes. After all, they really are some of the most enjoyable parts of the human experience.