Christmas of 2013 was a bit unusual for us. We have been away at Christmas a few times in the past, but never just before Christmas. One of the aspects of the Christmas season that I do not care for is the inundation of commercialism and the overload of Christmas music that starts just after Halloween and reaches it crescendo on Christmas Eve. By Christmas day I am done with it all and find that I do not enjoy it like I used to.
This year we missed almost all of the aspects of Christmas that I do not like.
We arrived home on the morning of Dec. 22 and had no need for any shopping as that had all been done beforehand. We had not heard any Christmas music while we gone, so it was more than welcome as we cranked up the tunes in our own warm and cozy house. By the time I attended the Christmas Eve service at church, I was ready, as opposed to done. Overall, the experience was very different and I liked it a lot.
Our culture overdoes Christmas for a very simple reason. It is the biggest retail season of the year and many businesses will make it or break it based on Christmas season sales. So naturally, there is the accompanying advertising and hype that goes with retail push. The birth of Christ becomes secondary. Worse than that, The associations that children make are skewed, and so much of that carries on into adulthood. Having just spent Advent in a country that does not make a big deal of Christmas, it made me realise that I had to take the time to think about and concentrate on what Christmas meant for me. Nobody was in my face telling me what to think or do. It was all by my initiative if I was to come up with a right frame of mind for Christmas.
There was no "Frosty the Snowman", "Jingle Bells", or "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" while we sat under the stars and full moon, framed by Palm trees swaying in the humid tropical breezes. We were far away from Christmas, and yet it was the season.
The shepherds were taken by surprise when the angels suddenly announced the birth of Christ. They did not have a month or two of preparation and hype. They were overwhelmed by the joyful celebration that came on so very suddenly, and were comforted by the messengers who told them they did not have to be afraid. I have sometimes been afraid of Christmas, or at least my diminishing attitude toward aspects of it. This year it came upon me more or less suddenly and it did indeed enhance the experience.
As we sang the joyful carols in church on Christmas Eve, I suddenly realised that I had not heard them for over a year. Not only that, but the message and sounds of the carols were not drowned out by the echoes and reverberations of mall noise still ringing in my ears.
It is good to change up our way of doing things on occasion, to give us some perspective on why we do the things we do.