November 28, 2010
I have a strong belief that the way a Christian celebrates Christmas should look and feel different than the way non Christians celebrate it.
I also am convinced that the days leading up to Christmas should look and feel different for a Catholic. I would argue that Catholics should keep Advent - the time when we prepare for the coming of Christ - so that our December is counter-cultural.
It's so important to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ, to take time to think about what God did and what He will do again with the second coming. It is good to slow down a little bit, to fast before the feast, to long for Someone.
In our home, I have found that the best way to celebrate Advent is to keep Christmas out of it. Currently our house is decorated for Advent - not Christmas. We have empty mangers, a Jesse Tree, the Advent wreath, and stockings. On December 6th we'll awaken to stockings filled by St. Nicholas with gold coin candy and pajamas - because that's what St. Nick brings around here. Every night at dinner we'll light the Advent wreath and a part of the bed time routine will be the Jesse Tree. Christmas music, the Christmas tree, and other little things won't come out until Guadete Sunday -the 3rd Sunday of Advent where we Rejoice that our Savior will come. And then Christmas is celebrated through Epiphany (at least!).
For awhile I felt like this was what good Catholics should do - have Advents that look similar to mine. But then someone told me that people are just trying to do the best they can, and I realized that all the little details don't matter so much - like when you put your Christmas tree up. What matters is that preparations are made for the coming of the Lord.
You'd think that I wouldn't be such a judgemental jerk about how other people get excited about Jesus, but then again if you knew me you probably wouldn't be surprised at all.
Do I still think the goal should be a distinction between Advent and Christmas? Yes. Do I finally see that there are many ways those distinctions can be made? Yes. I'm just trying to do my best, and so are you, right? Good for us. And happy first Sunday of Advent.