We have entered the Advent season. Have you noticed?
Now that you’ve spent nearly six weeks listening to Christmas advertising and music you may be getting a little weary before time. Perhaps the needles are beginning to fall off your tree. This begs the question of whether there can be too much of a good thing. (Boo! It’s the Grinch).
Of course, advertisers will tell you that more is better. But the truth of the matter is that more of anything diminishes its value. It doesn’t matter whether it is food, football, currency or Christmas time (did I have to mention football?).
Christmas is a day – a very important day.
But decorating is a lot of work so it seems efficient to put decorations up a little sooner and enjoy the labor (and beauty) a little longer. A week might seem good. Well, why not right after Thanksgiving? A month is even better, right?
But the harsh reality is that economics influences both our perception of a holiday and how much emphasis it gets.
Did you know that Halloween is now the No. 2 holiday in terms of money spent? Thanksgiving may help the grocery industry but not many others have found a way to capitalize on being thankful (Thank God!).
So what happens? Right after Halloween we begin to see the emphasis on Christmas.
It is an ill wind indeed which blows no good. Halloween, with all its attendant mischief, serves as an economic stopper for how early Christmas emphasis begins. At least it does for now. I just wonder when Christmas emphasis would begin otherwise. I know it would blow by Labor Day. July Fourth anyone?
I look in the Bible and I find that some holidays (we’ve almost forgotten this word is a derivative of “holy days”) were one day, some were a few days and some were a short season of approximately a week, perhaps at least one was slightly more.
What concerns me is that Christmas may lose much of its value just by virtue of the attempt to celebrate it for two months. That’s a long time.
I suggest a game plan that allows us to keep the right emphasis (and perhaps our sanity).
First, remember that much of the secular season we have created around the holiday is geared to appeal to making children happy. Now let’s just skip the cliché about “children of all ages” because that misses the point. Wide-eyed kids make decorations and presents more special. Why else would we be tempted to overspend?
If you do not have children or grandchildren around you this year, lower your expectations on that side of things. If you do have children around be sure to build in allowance for naps, childish behavior and reaction to over stimuli such as sugar or a disrupted schedule.
Second, remember that there is a limit to how much “special” you can enjoy. Too much begins to diminish the value. Set your limits. Budget your time and other resources so that you don’t allow stress to steal the very thing you hope to accomplish. You may find you actually enjoy your celebration more.
Third, as we get closer to that special day, swim upstream on the politically correct. Wish folks a Merry CHRIST-mas instead of some insipid “happy holidays.” Plan to attend a Christmas church service on the Plateau to help bring a spiritual emphasis. Look for a way to do some act of service for someone not in a position to return the kindness. Pray a prayer of thanks to God for sending his son who would purchase our salvation. Read the Christmas story to your loved ones on Christmas Day.
Oh, and if you’re already Christmas-weary don’t be afraid to do what the computer geeks do. Do a re-start. It just might re-jolly your old elf (er, self).