Thursday, December 01, 2005

And so this ISN'T Christmas

Christmas is in the air!

But — uh — it isn't Christmas.

This is the season we call "Advent." The Christmas season starts after sundown on December 24.

I'm prompted to bring this up by two bloggers.

Amy's hosting an interesting discussion, prompted by a reader who asks how to keep the seasons — both of them — holy and Christ-filled. The suggestions are good and it's even worth reading all the comments, if you've got a spare quarter hour or so.

Then there's this ridiculous "Let's honor a pro abort in the spirit of Christmas" thing Boston's Catholic (sic) Charities is into up to its ears. Dom posted a letter to Archbishop Sean O'Malley, signed by about four-score and twenty people, asking him to see to deep-sixing the honoring of pro-abortion, pro-same sex marriage advocate (but open handed) Mayor Tom Menino on the organization's "Christmas" fundraiser. To be held on December 9 (which is before the third Sunday of Advent).

(I didn't sign the letter. Lest you think I am not in agreement with the signees, I hasten to assure you I wasn't asked to sign it. That's not my point.)

Anyway, seeing both these posts today reminded me of something that bothers me, year after year. To wit:

Why the bleep do Christians — especially Catholics — celebrate "Christmas" during Advent???

Advent is a holy season. Christmas is, too, of course, but Advent comes first. And it should come first! It's a time for preparation, for quiet reflection on our lives, for getting ready, not just to remember Christ's first coming, but to greet him worthily when He comes again for the second and most decisive time.

And how to we behave during this gift of a season? Too often, I'm afraid, like drunken sailors on a short leave. We shop. We decorate. We plan. We fight with each other in the shopping malls for a parking space, cursing each other out even as the words "happy holidays" slip glibly from our lips.

We go to parties. At the office, at our friends' homes. (At the Boston Harbor Hotel.) We do everything possible to feverishly cram inane activities into the very short amount of time we've got to prepare our souls for the coming of Jesus.

Don't get me wrong. I love Christmas. But I love Advent, too. Both seasons have their purpose. Both merit our attention. I'm starting to think the Grinch didn't steal so much Christmas, but the weeks of preparation needed before the blessed event.

I don't know...sometimes I think the next thing in store is an Easter egg hunt on Holy Thursday. You know what I mean?

Or am I being Kelly Scrooge?