My daddy told tales from his childhood of putting up the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. In the old Cary Grant-Loretta Young version of "The Bishop's Wife", they decorate the tree on Christmas Eve. Donna Reed and kids are decorating the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve when Jimmy Stewart comes in with trouble from the bank examiner. According to Anglican church tradition, Christmas decorations don't go up until after all four Sundays in Advent have been celebrated.
This year we're following suit.
It seems that the Christmas creep gets earlier and earlier every year. Stores were decorated this year even before Hallowe'en. The week before Thanksgiving there were at least two houses in our neighborhood in full Christmas-light regalia. Some of my high school friends asked on Facebook whether the day before Thanksgiving was too early to put up the tree. And some of my close friends put theirs up on Black Friday.
Through the years, I've begun feeling that people seem to be hanging onto Christmas a bit too much. They try to milk every last drop of party time out of December and leave up the lights on their houses until St. Valentine's Day. I'm reminded of the Chip and Dale cartoon where they wished for Christmas to happen every day. After a while it got old.
To appreciate the specialness of the season, it must be fleeting. To appreciate the happiness of Christmas, we must remember Good Friday. For to really understand and have a gauge for happiness one must understand grief and sadness.
[This is where my mind races off in tangents about non-Christians, especially those raised in the church who never darken the church door, adorning their living rooms with evergreen trees and giving presents to each other on December 25th. But that's another rant, er, I mean, blog.]
So in these days of Advent, there is going out a decree from Mrs. Gaelic that all the Gaelic household shall observe Advent during Advent and Christmas during Christmas. There will be no pop-guns, bikes, roller skates, or drums, no checkerboards, trikes, popcorn, or plums. No presents, no ribbon, no wrappings. No tags, no tinsel, no trimming, no trappings. Not one little speck of the holiday season. Not 'til the calendar says it's time for the Christmas season.
[Yeah, yeah, I know I'm mixing my allusions here.]
While everyone else in the world (so it seems) is decorating their trees, and mantles, and banisters, and front doors, we'll be lighting purple and pink candles. And while everyone else in the world (so it seems from past years) will be flooding the stores for 75% off Christmas merchandise, we'll be just getting started with our celebration.
I may sound like the Grinch with my stern decree. But for twelve short days, my family will know that Christmas is here for only the briefest of moments before being swept away into the gift-giving season of Epiphany.
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