I finally woke up from my turkey and pie lethargy yesterday morning. Two days of continued post-Thanksgiving gluttony went by in a blur of drowsiness, TV watching and general indolence. Thank goodness for having to drag my lazy arse to church on Sunday morning.
I have never been one for the “thrill” of getting up at 4:00 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving to sit out in the cold waiting for Circuit City or Macy’s to open, and then push and shove (or actually trample) people to get inside the doors. So having avoided the crowds for Black Friday, I actually went to Super Target yesterday afternoon. I was going to buy new lunch boxes for my sons, whose old lunch boxes had become too torn and impossibly unsanitary to pack with food. I did also buy one big box of plain Legos as a Christmas present for my 6 year old (I absolutely refused to spend $80 on a box of Star Wars Legos) and a few long-sleeved shirts for the boys, then I wandered over to the Christmas decorations area.
I’ve always been a big collector of Christmas ornaments, but I just looked around for a few minutes before I was overcome by a feeling that all this glittery stuff seemed pointless and so disconnected from the true meaning of Christmas. Tell me what glittery snowflakes, light-up animated polar bears and pink tinsel have to do with the birth of our Saviour? (I also find it ironic that all of our crappy, commercial Christmas decorations, even things like Nativity scenes, are made in China. Of all places, the plastic stuff that is supposed to connect us to a Christian holy day is made by workers in a country that officially and unofficially tries to suppress the Christian faith).)
I don’t know what it is with me every year right after Thanksgiving. I am in no mood to immediately switch gears into the Christmas blitz. This depressed feeling isn’t new, but it feels just as surprising every year I experience it. I think it’s just too much, too soon. What I want is a quiet interlude focused on Christ and his coming. Not the commercialism and the overwhelming amount of work that needs to be done to “prepare” for Christmas – baking cookies, buying presents, decorating the house. But it’s so easy to prepare for the wrong things because we feel pressured to accomplish the secular goals of Christmas, rather than the spiritual ones. And are those spiritual goals so much more time consuming? Prayer and fasting in some ways do not take the same amount of time, but in other ways, they take a superhuman effort.
You’d think I don’t love the Christmas season, but I actually do and yes, I’ll come around. Give me a week or two and I’ll be into the fun stuff too. Did I mention I absolutely love Christmas music? The religious and the cheesy secular. Listening to that usually gets me in the Christmas mood. But until then, I’m going to try and refocus on Advent. As we remember in the Paraklesis Service for the Nativity of the Lord,
Let us purge our bodies and souls of sin
that with a pure conscience we may welcome in Bethlehem,
Christ the King of glory who cometh to be born of
the Virgin pure and sinless. Come, let us adore Him!