Merry Christmas! We've arrived at the celebration of the birth of Our Savior - - Jesus Christ! As a child I used to always look forward to Christmas. We weren't particularly religious or anything. We would visit Santa yearly - - I think my mom has pictures up until I was about 10 or so. More than the presents that I would receive, I think I looked forward most to the festive air of the holiday season. There were things that only came with the holidays - - tree trimming, decorations, the Christmas parade, the lights. Something seemed magical about this time of year - - like if you made a wish, it could come true. Not that it would, but that the possibility was there. You could practically see the virtues of generosity, charity, good will, and love dancing in the air. People seemed happier, brighter, more hopeful.
In Pittsburgh, my hometown, during the holidays, if you donated to the Children's Hospital fund you would receive a complimentary Farkleberry Star cookie. I parted with many dollars for these cookies during the holidays. I have fond memories of Parade Day and Farkleberry Star cookies. Often we would go tour the windows of the downtown department stores (Pittsburgh's Kaufmann's always told a story) with their magical displays - - never with toys that you could purchase - - just old fashioned dolls, cars and trucks, Santa, and elves busily working to get ready for Christmas.
Christmas now comes earlier and earlier for both the retailer and the consumer. Some places have their Christmas items out as early as July. Some start right after Halloween. Like Charlie Brown and Linus, I have lamented the commercialism of Christmas. I long for the days of the magic - - of storefront windows with whimsical displays, parades that I don't have to watch on TV, and Farkleberry cookies that came and went with the season. Perhaps it is not so magical when Christmas starts so early. Reading an article over the holidays, the author too lamented about the early Christmas "rush" leading to us looking forward to the end of the season. The ending comes earlier and earlier - - with many throwing out their trees soon after the new year.
As I have gotten older, I still look forward to the Christmas season. I, too, have changed. Having children, I look for those things that will make the wishes of my children come true. I try to make the magic alive for them, but I am not sure they perceive it. We have things that only come out with the Christmas tree - - the Polar Express train, the Playmobile Nativity playset, the various knickknacks, and more. We do our Christmas baking and yearly photograph. We do our Advent wreath, say special prayers at mealtimes when we are all together, have stories that are read during the season, and take off longer from home schooling. All of these things are special to me, and perhaps someday they will remember them as fondly as I remember store windows and Farkleberry Star cookies.
Traditions are important, even new ones that have come our way as we explore our faith more deeply and more deeply commit ourselves to it. We are still learning, still adding and subtracting to our Advent and Christmas traditions.
God Bless you all and may God bless you in this Christmas season and through the New Year!!!