Christmas is Still Here

January 05, 2016

Today is the 12th and final day of Christmas. Yet, last night I noticed we were the last house in the neighborhood with our lights still going. My neighbors may think I'm lazy for not taking them down, but I'm questioning their religious commitment! I'm standing strong against the "war on Christmas."

This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine...

There's something problematic about the way our society rushes on to the next holiday or big event. The turkey's still hot on Thanksgiving and we start our Christmas shopping. The wrapping paper's still tossed around the floor and stores start moving Christmas stuff to the clearance rack. It's hard to claim we viewed something as a holy day - holiday - when we quickly toss it aside like the ugly sweater gift from an eccentric aunt.

I finally wandered into a store on the 6th day of Christmas and found the Christmas section replaced with Valentine's Day candies. It was almost enough to make me follow Jesus's example in the temple and get my whip to start knocking everything over! I enjoy Valentine's candies as much as anyone else (okay, probably more than most), but who actually needs to start shopping for that day before we've even replaced our calendars?

My three-year-old son helps keep Christmas going since he's pretty obsessed with it. He loves the stories, his nativity set, the ornaments, the lights. He dresses like a little Santa pretty much every day. On several mornings I've awakened to him dressed like that and a large smile just inches from my face. It kind of seems like that creepy elf some people put on a shelf. He's wearing that outfit right now and even wore it to Lowe's on the 6th day of Christmas where everyone else seemed to have already forgotten the holiday. We need more of that childlike faith.

Many churches at least continue to celebrate Christmas on the Sunday after the holiday, usually as a day to remember the Magi. But I actually visited a church one year on that Sunday where they sang no Christmas songs and the preacher talked about the Second Coming (and not even a good sermon on the topic for any Sunday). There we were just days after Christmas and treating the incarnation as some fleeting memory we barely remembered as if awakening from a bad hangover.

In a society that values consumerism and speed, perhaps one of the holiest things we can do is to stop and reflect. To stop and ponder Christmas, to let it linger in our houses of worship, homes, and hearts. Perhaps we need more of the spirit of Mary in Luke's birth narrative.

"Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart," Luke wrote.

It's hard to treasure and ponder as we rush Christmas out the door like a guest overstaying their welcome. It's hard to treasure and ponder as we race to see who can put baby Jesus back in the box first and place him safely (for us) away in the attic.

Each day I continue to nibble on wonderful leftover Christmas goodies: the cocoa fudge my dad made, the caramel popcorn my son helped my wife make, the peppermint-chocolate shortbread cookies my sister made, the dark chocolate peanut butter cups my brother-in-law made, the chocolate-covered pretzel sticks my sister-in-law made, the date-filled cookies my wife and I made, and more. Yum! And I put it all down with some Eggnog, which I've restocked on since it went on a post-Christmas sale even though the date on the carton is still in the future.

Christmas is still here - and that's the way it should be. So I think I'll hang out with Christmas (and the goodies) a bit longer.