Merry Christmas. I enjoy the holiday season, but I celebrate Christmas. No matter how politically correct it is to wish people a "Happy holidays," how nervous people become to utter the word Christmas, I can't sell myself out. Our culture would never require Muslims to cease wishing people a "Happy Ramadan," if in fact they do say things like that, and say something more generic and less offensive, like "Happy festivities." Christmas may be commercialized, but it is still a celebration originally beginning with and full of Christ.
As a little girl, I loved when Mom brought home a new Advent calendar for the season. Usually in the shape of a house or a Christmas scene, with snow and trees and colorful families, numbered with windows from December first to Christmas day. Each day, Sis and I opened the window of the day, and Mom read with us the verse or bit of Christmas story hidden behind the window. Each day, we watched as the open windows drew us one step closer to the day we longed for. Anticipation pulsed in our child hearts.
Advent literally means "coming" or "arrival"( http://www.crivoice.org/cyadvent.html). The Advent calendars herald, not only the arrival of Christmas, but the arrival of the Christ. Any more, Advent calendars are more like holiday traditions that help us "get in the spirit" and have fun. This is a wonderful tradition for families and I love that, but it's odd to me that the Advent of Christ has been cut out of many of these calendars. The Advent season is one of longing, of anticipation, of hope and preparation, much like the season of Lent. We celebrate not only the coming of the Christ centuries ago, but his continual coming into our world, into the hearts of those who still welcome him. The birth of Christ was a historical event, and even so, we long for his birth in our lives and in our world again and again.
In the midst of bemoaning the commercialization of Christmas, I see that my mourning is every bit as much for my dwindling anticipation of Advent. How dullness settles like a shroud around the heart of one who is no longer a child. No wonder Jesus loves the children, and those with childlike hearts. It's not too late for me this Advent season, to rediscover the joy and wonder, the thrill and anticipation, of longing for Christmas. Except now I long not for presents underneath our tree, but for the brightness of Christ's birth in my heart, in our world.
Come, Christ Jesus.