Saturday, November 8, 2014

What Falls Away at Christmas

I used to get annoyed with people who planned the holidays early.  Planning a Christmas gathering before Halloween?  Oh, my.

Now that I am a little older, I can understand the desire to sort things out earlier than later.  (I still say that doesn't need to be done before Halloween.  And no Christmas gathering talk much before Thanksgiving, unless you are planning some sort of reunion or big trip.)  I have noticed a strong desire to have a plan for the day or weekend lately.  It feels pretty urgent when I do notice it.  It usually comes when we have several things that we need to accomplish and drifting through the day doesn't help get those things done.  Thanksgiving through New Year's Day can feel pretty hectic, and I imagine an advanced plan could be helpful in producing smoother celebrations for families (not to mention all the days in between).

I can also understand why people put up Christmas lights earlier than later.  What if it storms or is super cold the weekend you planned on doing it?  I can imagine it's better to grab hold of a nicer weekend when you can.  (You could wait to turn the lights on though!)

We usually wait to cut down our Christmas tree until the pink week of Advent, Gaudete Sunday.  It's an exciting weekend liturgically, and we experience a deepening of joy and anticipation of Christmas.   This has mostly worked well for us, save the year a blizzard chased us back to the house with the tree.  We picked it out in whipping winds wondering why in the world we had our kids out in that weather.  So, if you wait too long, you might not get your tree cut down in time, especially since tree farms typically don't stay open past the 20th or 21st.

The snowman built from the blizzard that chased us home from the tree farm.

I can specifically remember begging people to remind me to make a professional appointment for Christmas pictures next time last Christmas.  It was so hard capturing my boys in a nice pose.  Holy cow!  My camera is not fast enough for them.  I can see why picture-taking gets scheduled in advance.

I can understand why people do a lot of the holiday things they do early.

But do we have to do all of them?  I find it easy to type out here that the answer is no, but living out that no has been harder than I thought it would ever be.

I want to think out loud about some of these things that might fall away at Christmas and what might stay, too.  It's my prayer that I approach the holidays with the right disposition, allow for the cultivation of virtue, and be a good steward of my family's time and money.

I wonder a bit if I overthink Christmas, but for my family's sake, especially for the spiritual formation of my young children, I want to navigate the holiday carefully. That requires some forethought.  (But I do overthink things.)

Think out loud with me.  I welcome your thoughts on planning for the holidays.  

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