One of the most beautiful things to me is the warm glow of a Christmas tree. I even have my lights plugged into an outlet that’s controlled with the light switch so I can quickly & easily light up my tree with the flip of a switch first thing in the morning and first thing when I come home from work. I do my morning quiet time with my Advent devotional by the tree. I read by the tree and address Christmas cards by the tree. I would take three meals a day by the tree and sleep there too if I didn’t have a husband and a dog that need me.
When I was young, my parents often worked long hours or multiple jobs. It may have only been one or two years, but I remember it as many years of not getting to decorate until very, very close to Christmas Day. They were tired, they were likely stressed about giving my brother and me a Christmas morning they wanted us to have and well, that’s just how it was for us then.
When I became a “grown up” with a place of my own, I was ecstatic to get to decorate early and be able to enjoy the warm glow of the twinkling lights, the smells and the sounds of Christmas for weeks before the actual day.
And now, as I’ve grown older still, my plan is always to decorate the weekend of Thanksgiving, the weekend of the beginning of Advent.
As a Catholic Christian, and probably a few select Protestant Christians, we believe the Christmas season begins with Christmas Day, or Christmas Eve night if you wanna split hairs. I’m no theologian. I know some people that don’t put up Christmas decor until then, sans maybe an Advent calendar.
When the covid pandemic whooshed through in 2020, Christmas looked different for so many of us. Dare I say all of us. My entire Instagram feed was flooded with people that just couldn’t wait to get Christmas started already! They needed some joy in their life and the quicker they got to decorating, the better life would be.
I felt physical anxiety over this, I kid you not. I wanted to scream, “Slow down!”, “Christmas is about more than decor!”, “It’s not even November!”, “It’s not even Thanksgiving!” Alas, I kept quiet and only talked about this with friends that felt the same way as me.
Now here we are, two years later, and people just can’t wait to rush into another Christmas season. Push away the last 10 months and just get on with it already! I think what’s most heartbreaking to me, as a Catholic, is how allergic they all seem to be come December 26. “Take it all down!”, “Give me my house back!”, “Ugh, it was pretty, but I’m so sick of the Christmas clutter!”
I’m talking about so many different things in this one post, so you’ll just have to forgive the stream of consciousness I’m working with here. I’ve thought so much about this for so long but I’m deep in too many espressos as I’m writing. Just bear with me.
So now, as I’ve grown older, my plan still is to decorate the weekend of Thanksgiving, the weekend when Advent begins.
Why? Because Advent is a season of preparation for what’s to come. It’s the slow, quiet anticipation of the birth of my Savior. It’s the time when I most need to make my home a place of rest and peace, away from the hustle and bustle of a busy shopping season and everything else season crammed into four lightning fast weeks. A place where I can focus on the reason for the season and create a space in my heart and home to receive Him.
I still beg people behind my phone screen to calm down, to wait. I see people post memes about letting the people have their joy, Thanksgiving can still happen with Christmas garland, etc. I whisper that they’re missing the point. And then I come write this post about it because I just need to get it out there to somebody!
I imagine, if I close my eyes and take a deep breath, a world where we’re all pretty well in sync. Maybe I’m talking about my Instagram world which is mostly American, maybe I’m talking about more. I can imagine the peace in all of our lives if we didn’t rush from one thing to the next. If we enjoyed the actual season we’re in (earthly, liturgically) before demanding the next to start before it’s time.
One last thing before I close out this jumbled post…
I had a friend text me a picture of her beautiful tree and mantel that she decorated a week ago.
She asked me if I thought her decor was funny.
Not at all. I love it.
I just want her, you, me, to breathe. Let it be Fall. Let it be Thanksgiving.
Then, in between eating leftovers and shopping online for all the Black Friday deals there are available, start to prepare for the next season: Advent. Let it come slowly and build quietly. I promise you won’t regret it.