No wonder people are sick of Christmas, even on the afternoon of the 25th. They’ve dealt with its counterfeit for months.
In secular society, Christmas (if we’re still allowed to call it that—in North America, it seems to have morphed into ‘Winter Holiday’) officially ends at approximately 6.45am, December 25—or whatever time your children or grandchildren have torn the last shreds of gift-wrap off their Christmas … er, Winter Holiday presents.
Although people still gather later in the day for a grand dinner, complete with turkey and all the trimmings, sadly, some folks have already tossed out the tree.
It is not unusual to see discarded Christmas trees lying forlornly in Canadian back alleys by noon on December 25.
I suppose that, having put up and decorated their trees in early November or late October, people are tired of looking at (and dusting) the ornaments.
Meanwhile, stores and malls have moved on, cutting the carols from their Muzak playlists, and preparing merchandise for their Boxing Day (or, more ridiculously, Boxing Week) blowout sales.
Consumers will respond: not having been vanquished (mentally or financially) by the previous ten weeks’ worth of shopping, droves will be lined up before 8am, waiting for the doors to open on December 26.
I’m glad the carol The Twelve Days of Christmas is still around, though it’s likely confusing to people on more than one level.
Most folks seem to think that Christmas exists and lasts for only one day, December 25, while the “Christmas Season” begins the day after Halloween (or, for some ambitious retail outlets, immediately after Canadian Thanksgiving, which falls on the second Monday in October).
By my calculation, that makes for roughly Eighty Days of Christmas. No wonder people are tired of it by the 25th of December.
And yet, postmodern folk are not weary of every aspect of the (forgive me) Holiday Season, are they? With obesity taking over as a leading cause of illness and early death in the West, it’s obvious that people indulge in feasting all year long.
Nor do they tire of the general revelry: people go on partying, drinking, clubbing and raving weekend after weekend.
Nor, judging from the levels of personal and societal debt, do folks tire of the shopping (see Boxing Week, above).
It’s ironic, therefore, to hear contemporary poems or songs, ranging from sentimental to mawkish, wishing that Christmas could last all year long.
“Oh, why can’t every day be like Christmas?” croons Elvis, “Why can’t that feeling go on endlessly? / For if every day could be just like Christmas, / What a wonderful world this would be.”
Indeed. If the King says it, it’s got to be true. He speaks, of course, of the cheer, love, hope, joy, charity, goodwill that the ‘spirit of Christmas’ seems to call forth from so many people, who in turn try to share it with others, especially those less fortunate.
Whence comes that spirit? No matter what the most ardent, benevolent, and philanthropic atheist might argue, goodness and charity come from God.
The ‘spirit’ of Christmas is engendered by the Holy Trinity, and enfleshed in Emmanuel, God-with-us.
The word Christmas is derived from “Christ’s Mass,” and – guess what, Elvis – it takes place on an hourly basis, somewhere in the world, every day of the year.
Here’s where the irony goes into high gear, of course, for postmodern society has not just turned its back on Christianity, but in many areas of life, seems to be on an all-out search and destroy mission.
Prayer is not allowed in schools; employees are forbidden to wear a cross or crucifix at work; we are discouraged, at Winter Holiday time, from saying “Merry Christmas”, substituting “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings”.
The Church in her wisdom gives us Advent as a time of contemplation, and celebrates the entire Christmas season, from the Vigil on December 24, to the feast of the Baptism of our Lord in January.
Eastern Rite Christians extend the holiday (good on them!) a few more weeks. But Christians may, can and must carry the light of Christ in our hearts every day of the rolling year.
Although it is now officially at an end, here’s wishing you a belated Merry “Christ’s Mass”.