Please Stop Playing That Christmas Music

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This is the most true thing ever. I didn’t need a study to tell me so, of course, but it helps, because, as you are by now well aware, we’ve reached that fascinating point in human history where if it hasn’t been said by an expert none of us can know anything about it–whether it is true or false of imagined or real. But once a study has been done, some statistics cobbled together, a beleaguered researcher’s name embedded somewhere in a hyper link, well, then, for sure we can know it’s true.

So, go on read the study. Because truly, all ye who are already playing your Christmas music, but most especially all you store managers who woke up one warm October morning, chunked back your pumpkin spiced latte, flitted into your place of business, gazed into the heart of darkness and then went ahead and pushed Play, you should turn back to the light and turn it off for just a couple of weeks.

Not just because I am stressed, even though I most assuredly am. Not just because it’s the humane thing to do, which it is. But because, for real, you yourself will have a happier, brighter, and merrier Christmas. Indeed, everything about your life will be better and more wonderful.

Waiting, even for just a very little while, is a critical and necessary component of the good life, which I trust you are interested in, at least in name if not in reality. Waiting, one might even say enduringshould be a central fact of your human experience. If you don’t ever do it, if you don’t ever indulge in the long breathless anxious pause, you rob yourself of something crucial–the full orbed exquisite experience of coming to the end.

The old fashioned word for finally getting what you’ve been waiting for is ‘consummation.’ Most people in the west haven’t even heard of it, so busily have they been occupying themselves with having whatever they want right now. Do I want a new pair of shoes? Oop, click, there they are. Do I want a latte with some bizarre flavor adulterating it’s milky joy? I’ll just drive through. Do I want something to eat? I can get it instantly and fast, without even leaving my car or mincing and then slowly sweating an onion, waiting for it to turn translucent and pale in the gentle heat of the pan. Do I want to hook up with some other human, somewhere, for a desultory, soul destroying tête-à-tête? I can swipe left or right or something. Whatever I want, I can have it right now.

Listening to Christmas music from October 1 to December 25 is the sacramental embodiment of the confused rush to have whatever I want right now. Christmas, rather than being a definite celebration with integrity and value unto itself–a day, or better yet a season in which human people gather together to enjoy each other and perhaps even vaguely nod in the direction of the heavens…after all, either there’s Jesus up there, or Santa is wandering around the sky–becomes a state of mind in which you have to abide constantly, pushing the impossible rock of happiness and Christmas cheer daily up the mountain of your regular life, only to have it flatten you as it rolls inexorably down the cliff face on Christmas morning.

A celebration requires preparation, of course. You have to think about what you want to wear, and who you’re going to see, and what you’re going to eat, and what presents you’d like to give. For many days leading up to the feast it occupies your thoughts and time. You work and plan and hopefully begin to turn your posture toward that expectant moment. As the days go on more and more of who you are is facing that joy for which you long. You more and more feel like you cannot wait. But you do wait, because the days leading up to the thing are not the thing itself. Pretending that they are only dissipates and mars the sure and certain promise of beauty to come.

You might think about it this way. You know how it is, every Sunday you struggle to church. It can be pretty irritating to go there. You are probably tired from a busy week. And you might have promised to bring some sugary, carb laden item, but then you didn’t have time to actually bake anything, so you have to struggle out of your car into the frigid cold and wander around the empty grocery aisle, looking for anything to stave off the humiliation of always being so busy. Then you get to church and you have to greet a lot of people you don’t care very much for, and then sit and endure some singing and readings and announcements. But then, after what feels like an eternity, and in some sense it is, all of eternity is sitting there, heavy on your shoulders, almost too much to bear, you struggle to your feet and go all the way down the long aisle to eat a flat bit of dry bread, a wafer really, and take a sip of wine, and then wander back to your seat.

It’s like being always engaged and never making it to the wedding. It’s wearying. You eat the bread, you drink the wine, you wish you could see past the veil, you wish you could grasp on to the one who is right there, just almost within your grasp, but then you turn and go back to your seat. You keep waiting.

The longer you wait, the more happiness and satisfaction that you defer, the more you say to yourself, ‘oh, I guess I don’t need that right this second, I’ll wait a little and have it later’ the more sweet and rich and true and wonderful is the thing when you finally get to have it. God understands this, and so he makes us wait. And wait. Even when we think we can’t any more.

And he waits with us. Imagine the terrible waiting of the cross–those devastating hours of separation between the Son and the Father, the endless moments of eternity until the Son was able to declare that it was finished. He waited. He endured.

So maybe you could endure just a few minutes of regular non Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. Seriously, give it a try. Jesus would want you to.

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Sorry about no Podcast and Links yesterday. Had to be very early to the clinic with my dad for a lot of blood to be drawn. Praying some of it shows something.

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