Call me Scrooge and shout "Bah Humbug" as I pass by, but I'm not ready for the Christmas season. I cringe as I grocery shop around inflatable snowmen and posters of Santa's arrival at the mall make me want to avoid the area. When commercials for Christmas came onto my social media feed before Halloween had even occurred, I really started to think about why the concept of such an early preparation for a celebration didn't sit well with me.
It's not that I don't enjoy the Christmas season, don't get me wrong. It's actually my favorite season of the entire year. My family has some amazing traditions (granted, I'm highly biased) and nothing makes it 'feel like Christmas' than bundling up in pajamas, stuffing all ten of us in a car and going around looking at Christmas lights while eating ice cream. Or putting up the Christmas tree on the Eve of Christmas Eve and lighting a fire while reminiscing about Christmas past. And my favorite part of the day is when I am sitting with my family late on Christmas night and opening gifts made by the hands of little siblings.
Yet the beauty and significance of the holiday has lost its meaning in a world mesmerized with the money to be made in a season - instead of discerning the reason that there are gifts under a tree on the morning of December 25th.
I celebrate a liturgical feast where I am enamored with a woman, full of grace, who said yes to a plan of radical love despite social expectations and reactions. I love the presence of a man who said yes to the responsibility of being an earthly father figure to Our Lord and the protection of a Holy Family. I am head over heels for the lowliest of the low of society, shepherds, being the first to hear a call of "Be Not Afraid" and then be transformed into missionaries who spread the word about a God became Man. I love a weary world rejoicing in the love of their long-awaited Savior.
Because even if there were no trees, no festivities, no lights on Main street, the beauty of the Christmas season is not found in things...it's found in relationships. In the wise words of my favorite saint, "People are meant to be loved and things are meant to be used. The confusion in this world occurs when things are loved and people are used" (JPII) So my love for Christmas time is not wrapped in paper. It is found in the beauty of family gathered around a dinner table. It is found in a Mass at midnight, lit by candles and the joy of a family who has been spread out over the country finally getting a chance to come together.
There doesn't need to be snow on the ground or lights on my porch banisters for Christmas to occur. Christ came in the form of a baby, and then lived on the earth and gave us His body and blood regardless of our appreciation or celebration. His quiet sacrificial love is something that should be emulated in each and every day of our life, not just for thirty days in the winter months.
So when November 26th draws to a close and the rush ensues to trim a tree and hang the stockings, you won't find me there. While Christmas carols will gladly be filling my house and thoughts of how to best surprise people and show them how much I care about them will occupy my thoughts, the person who will be at the forefront of my mind is not a man in a red suit, but a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes. The rest of the world will call me crazy, but I'm looking forward to celebrating the birth of a God who died to get to know me, and I don't need an eggnog latte to make that official.