Sunday, November 16, 2008

'Tis the Season

Why are the stores already playing Christmas music? WHY, I ask you? Dear God, why? Tonight we went to Sears to buy a dishwasher, and on the way home Michael started singing Winter Wonderland.

"Stop, just stop," I cut in, as he sang about the frightful weather (it looked pretty clear outside to me). "No Christmas songs!" Sears, of course, had been broadcasting Winter Wonderland over their loudspeakers. Once it's in your head, it's stuck like a broken record.

Maybe the economy is a driving force behind the all the premature holiday displays this year. Perhaps this is seen as a way to drum up sales, which are expected to lag far behind the norm. Christmas shopping, after all, is what pushes many a shop's year end profits from the red to the black - Christmas shopping is, quite literally, serious business.

We all know this. It's nothing new, yet every year people I know complain vociferously about the crassness of it all. And, as one woman in my church said recently, "Whatever happened to advent? That used to be such a special time." It's true; advent has been trampled under the stampede of Christmas commercialism. Rather than a time to reflect and anticipate our Savior's birth, it's a time to scramble for last minute gifts and overfill our schedules much as we overfill our stomachs at Thanksgiving. From Halloween until New Year's, it becomes one long orgy of excess.

Now I have to admit that my schedule is filling up rapidly, too, and like most Americans my holiday season will be busy with concerts and parties and, yes, shopping. The fact is, I really enjoy this time of year if I can stay focused on the aspects I love: more time spent with family and friends, beautiful music, meaningful worship, the smell of fir trees, and reminiscing with old movies like It's a Wonderful Life. I even look forward to Michael's and my annual shopping trip downtown to pick up items for those on our gift list. But one afternoon of shopping is just about enough for me - and it's definitely not where I find the true so-called "Christmas spirit". For that I look no further than the advent wreath that will grace our coffee table in a few weeks, as we count down the days to Jesus' birth.

P.S. - Please note that I did say in a few weeks. In other words, NOT YET! Sheesh, let's enjoy November for November's sake, shall we?

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