Merry Christmastide!

Merry Christmastide!

It takes some real effort to keep saying that even as the New Year has arrived. It’s out of sync with all the forces of time that press against us. In our house, we’ve turned the corner on the Christmas Break from school and are beginning to gear up for the second semester. There’s a press to move along already.

My friends, I invite you to forestall these demands a little longer. Let Christmas swell into Christmastide. Here are three reasons we need all twelve days of Christmas.

January is Boring

Once the party invites have petered out and the bowl games have been played, January is pretty much all business. It feels as if we’ve blown out the candles on Christmas Eve and then thrown on the fluorescent lights. Back to business. Make your resolutions and then get to work.

Christmastide reminds us that we were made for merriment. Our desire to be diligent and faithful in our work shouldn’t be confused with the grind that the powers of this world wish to pass off as the normal human experience.

So take a little longer to gather around the table with friends. Take time for silliness and play. Take time for leisure and recreation. Boring old January will still be here when we’re through.

The Waiting of Advent Deserves a Proper Party!

The family of Restoration has guided my family and me in the observance of Advent, a month I cherish every year. Whether it is a devotional that guides me through the story again or the Jesse tree our family completes, the intentional building up of anticipation brings such joy and hope.

But Advent can be hard, too, especially in an environment that cranks up the ‘holly jolly’ right after Halloween. I do my best to lean away from listening to Christmas carols and indulging in frosted cookies during December—it’s not exactly a lenten fast, but I want to carve out a clear distinction. We wait and then we celebrate.

But the ratio is all thrown off if all of that waiting is followed by a one-day celebration. We barely have time to break in those carols we’ve been dying to sing. Maybe the truth is that we are bad at partying. We spend one day (or maybe just one morning) opening gifts and stuffing our faces and then we ask: What now?

This Christmastide, party better. Instead of making your Christmas celebration just a hectic rush for self-satisfaction, invest your time in enjoying others. Share meals, share stories, share gifts. Make new friends, make deeper relationships. That’s the sort of party that doesn’t fizzle out.

One Day Isn’t Enough

My family committed a few years back to be in church on Christmas Eve. After walking through Advent, it just felt odd not to be present for that moment when the whole story comes together and all the light shines out in the darkness.

Still, there’s an incompletion to our celebration of Christmas. Family obligations and the frenzied blur of wrapping paper dominate our Christmas Day and drown out any space for reflection and worship. I know some families have wonderful Christmas Day traditions that bring proper focus on the birth of our savior, but the schedule (and our stomachs) tend to fill up quickly.

When we have a full Christmastide, we have the space to celebrate with friends and family and space to process exactly what it is we are celebrating. This is why I’ve come to adore our Lessons and Carols service (like the one we had this Sunday). I am so refreshed to hear the story read again and to sing those beloved songs.

(And yes, Chris’s rendition of “Go Tell It on the Mountain” is still my all-time favorite.)

So, for these reasons and more, I say to all of you again: Merry Christmas!