I prepared my heart, and now I’m ready to celebrate!
Towards the end of the calendar year, Christians and non-believers alike get in the spirit of the holidays, embracing gift-giving, sweet treats, and time with family and friends. Neighbors exchange cookies, strangers hold the door for an extra moment, and friends remind each other how grateful they are for one another. Christmas time brings out an unquestionable difference in the overall demeanor of our society, largely for the better.
The popular trend has become to start celebrating Christmas the day after Halloween, or after Thanksgiving, or on December 1st, or anywhere after or in between. Decorations emerge, cookies come out of hot ovens, songs about Santa flood the radio stations, and quotes from Buddy the Elf become part of everyday conversation.
But regardless of when each individual or family decides to begin their holiday festivities, the intensity and excitement of the season builds up until Christmas Eve and finally the arrival of Christmas Day, the most wonderful time of the year! The celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ pervades the world as we remember the silent, holy, and beautiful night that resulted from Mary’s “yes” to God. We remember the reason for the season and keep the Christ in Christmas on December 25th.
Then, December 26th bears an overwhelming abrupt end to the season of joy. Decorations come down, lights switch off, products go on sale, the last cookie gets eaten, family goes home, and people go back to work.
The world around me makes Christmas disappear, while I’m just getting started.
Within the Catholic Church, the four-week season of Advent consists of preparing, hoping, waiting, rejoicing, and beholding the Lord, which culminates in the celebration of Jesus’ birth at Christmas! While we enjoy all the festivities surrounding the holiday, we choose to focus on remembering the realities of Jesus’ sacrifice in becoming a human to join us on earth. We gather together to adore His coming and celebrate this central portion of our faith. This begins a 12-day celebration that lasts until the appearance of the three Wise Men at Jesus’ manger at the Epiphany on January 6th. The song The Twelve Days of Christmas isn’t just a drawn-out silly song describing a bunch of gifts between two lovers; the premise is based on the real length of Christmas.
The day that everyone forgets about Christmas is really only day two.
While the cookies, lights, and decorations bring much cheer and Christmas spirit, we can celebrate even while they come down around us. We can do our part to carry on the celebration by turning on our Christmas lights until the Epiphany, continuing to gather with friends and family, attending Church services, and wishing one another a “Merry Christmas” with a joyful smile. With all of the stress finally gone from shopping for presents, last-minute wrapping, and making tons of treats, we can finally fully immerse ourselves in celebrating the holiday, which benefits our hearts and souls as we enter into a new year. We each can remember the purpose of this Christmas and celebrate it in its entirety – until the Epiphany of our Lord.
Let’s embrace the joy for the full 12 days, and as long as we possibly can. Merry Christmas!
In Joy, Monica
The shepherds went in haste and found Mary and Joseph and the infant lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them.
Luke 2:16-17, 20