24 Dec 2011

A grinch in Advent

Every year in Advent I turn into a grinch.  So I am told, anyway.  Don't get me wrong.  I do not begrudge anyone their celebrations.  I get frustrated when people start going on about "the true meaning of the season."  Christmas is almost here, but it is not here yet.  It is still Advent and Advent is a season of penitant preparation.

This year my inner grinch came roaring out when I was watching TV.  (Always a mistkae this time of year.) One station was rpoudly advertising that they were celebrating "25 days of Christmas!"  I wanted to scream.

Christmas is one of my favorite holidays.  II love the magic and the mystery.  Without this mysterious and exciting season before Christmas, Christmas deflates like a giant waving lawn Santa on December 26th.

Christmas is a joyful celebration of the coming of the King of Kings.  The story is familiar, but if we step back enough to appreciate it, it is astounding.  So we do, every year.  Poets, artists, musicians, and preachers have tried to capture details.  This is God's plan.  He sent his son to His people. Our broken relationship with our Father can be restored through His son. 

And He is coming back.

That is what Advent is all about.  I remember being taught that Advent is a season of waiting and preparing for Christ to come.  It is.  Waiting and preparing.  Follow the light in the darkness.  Listen for the voice in the wilderness.  Prepare.  Not because He came once and we like parties, but because he is coming back. 

Santa does not intimidate people who celebrate Advent.  He is not the driving force of the consumerism of the season.  The driving force is us.  We who are too busy to spend a month in penitential preparation; who desperately try to channel Martha Stewart, not John the baptist. 

So. I am a grinch.  Every year, I try not to grumble too much. I want to raise my daughter's to love and appreciate Advent and Christmas.  The lights, the colors, the joy and even the gift giving...delightful!  But delightfully empty unless they point us toward Christ.

This year my inner grinch came out swinging.  No!  I will not put up my lights or decorations.  I will not sing carols.  I won't even listen to the radio, because all my favorite stations are playing Christmas music. 


Perspective comes all on its own sometimes.  All accoutrement of the holiday can be just as distracting to someone who resists them.  The devil gets his foot in  where he can.  i was so caught up in not celebrating before it was time, but my focus was still on these trivial things.

Two days ago, I brought my daughter to the doctor with the flu.  She sent me to the hospital.  We will be in the ICU for Christmas. Since she was sick all week, nothing is decorated.  Nothing is even cleaned.  Did my inner grinch make me miss Christmas? 

Not at all.  Being here focuses what is important.  My daughter is very sick.  For Christmas this year, I get the peace of mind of knowing that she has the best possible care, and she will get better.  I get the joyful realization that I am surrounded by prayerful friends and family.  Sometimes I think it takes getting the rug pulled out from under me to get me on my knees, but here I am.  This grinch is peacefully sitting by her daughter's bedside, giving thanks for a Holy day that has been trimmed of nonsense. 

2 comments:

  1. A Happy Christmas, Beth Cecilia, to you and your family. May your daughter fully recover. Advent is the 'lost season'. I guess we have to learn to some degree to be 'schizophrenic', to observe Advent by following the Church's liturgy, while Christmas and 'Christmas' are going on all around us.

    However, I associate carols witn the time before Christmas and with giving, even though most of the carols are about Christmas. In my last two or three years in school in Dublin a group of us used to sing carols in O'Connell Street, the main thoroughfare, and collect moeny for charity. The weather was usually very cold. Groups of carollers used to go from house to house raising money for charity.

    RTE, Ireland's national broadcaster, starts playing Christmas music, as far as I know, on 8 December, not before, though the commercial Christmas in Dublin now starts in November.

    If we are focused on Christmas Day what comes before it, including the Christmas music on the radio, the Nativity plays in school, can all be integrated to some degree with Advent, with the preparations for the feast.

    Part of my own Advent every year is reading Charles Dickens's Christmas Carol. While he doesn't hammer home the birth of Jesus, that is what underlies the whole story. It would make noe sense without it.

    As Tiny Tim said, 'God bless us every one!'

    ReplyDelete
  2. Lovely post...sorry to hear about your daughter..am praying..

    ReplyDelete