The Great Relief
Hallmark movies and holiday music would have us believe that December is a magical time of year when the Christmas Spirit visits us like a gentle breeze, leaving twinkling lights above our heads and gifting humanity with unconditional kindness and charity towards one another. Like a Yuletide Pentacost.
How I wish the Christmas spirit came like Pentacost.
Working retail takes a lot out of you. It is demanding, thankless work. Especially at Christmas time. The long hours, and holiday stress combine to make me pretty cranky at this time of year.
Every year I wait, with nutmeg baited breath, for that magical moment when it will feel like Christmas. Guess what? It never comes.
Like Charlie Brown, I coast through the holidays. I buy gifts and make food. I go to the gatherings and hang the decorations. But really, it just feels like any other day. There isn’t any magic in any of it. No meaning, no reason for all the fuss.
Yes, thank you Linus, I know the reason, but it still feels kind of hollow. Everywhere I see nativities and images of a baby in a manger, but Christ is never really talked about. The real reason is often glossed, over even by Christians. After all Christmas isn’t the end all and be all of the Christian faith. That’s Easter.
So why celebrate Christmas at all? Well, because Jesus was born. Before you can Celebrate Easter and the power of the Cross you have to wrap your head around the fact that Christ was God who became Human. He lived so he could die. He is God but he was also fully Human.
My point isn’t to be a Christmas downer. It’s just to say that sometimes Christmas feels like any other day. It doesn’t make me less Christian. It doesn’t make me less human. It certainly doesn’t make me Scrooge.
One year on this date, when I was still young, I woke up, completely convinced that today was really Christmas and Dec 25th had been a practice Christmas. I felt like I had finally found that magic everyone had always talked about.
I ran to the living room full of wonder, only to discovered that my dreams were crushed. The tree was bare. Yes I mean the tree was bare not just underneath it. Yes I would have liked more presents but most of all I couldn’t believe my parents were taking the tree down, on the real Christmas of all days.
I never really recaptured that feeling of wonder. Though I try. I think if I listen to enough Christmas songs, or if I watch enough Christmas movies, or if I buy everyone the perfect present, then it will come back. I’ve never felt Christmas quite like that again. I have found a feeling that comes in a close second though.
Every year I look forward to what I’ve started thinking of as the Great Relief. It’s the week between December 26th and the first of the year when all of the Christmas decorations are still up but most of the shopping frenzy has died down.
Yes we all know that Christmas doesn’t come from a store. As Linus once said, Christmas is about so much more.
But the real secret to the Christmas Spirit might just be the following fact:
According to the Church calendar, Christmas as is a twelve day celebration that starts on Christmas day and lasts until Epiphany on the sixth of January.
Maybe now that the gifts are given, the meals cooked, the decorations are up and the pressure is off, and the hype has died, you can finally relax and feel that Christmas Spirit.
Hey it’s finally Christmas. Merry Sixth day of Christmas.