Fr. James Martin has been declaring Christmas “lost” for the last few years, and he does so again here on Fox News. I take his point about the over-commercialization of the season, and am very sympathetic toward the idea of “reclaiming” Christmas” for oneself – the season of Advent beautifully gives us the opportunity to do precisely that. This year we did very little shopping–only the kids are getting gifts–and we only started listening to a little Christmas music as of this Sunday.
Holding off on the Christmas music, and spending more time in Advent contemplating all that is behind us and before us, has really helped us get a handle on Christmas “overdo.” We only just decorated the house. Christmas, now around the corner, still feels “new” to us, and we’re excited about it.
I think whether Christmas is “lost” has a lot to do with how much of its light you’re willing to identify and let it. That’s the topic of my column today, on the home page:
Praying Vespers of the Liturgy of the Hours each day is a productive way to remain “light focused.” Particularly in these last days before Christmas, the glorious “O Antiphons” are as quietening to the spirit as the gentle restraining hand of a mother, reassuring an overwound and anxious child:
O Dayspring, Brightness of the everlasting light, Son of justice, come to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death!
An antiphon is a little thing—a segue into a psalm or, in the case of the O Antiphons, into the Magnificat, Mary’s ebullient and ever-blooming canticle of praise, but perhaps little things, as we lurch toward the end of this endurance test of a season, can provide a heartening reassurance that Christmas is still, at its core, about love willing to exceed limits.
If the antiphons of Advent are helpful reminders that small things can preface eloquent understanding, Christmas shopping can also teach us a little of that, if we allow it to. Love, distorted and degraded in appearance, is at the root of the crowds headed from Penney’s to Best Buy just as surely as love—lowly in appearance—was at the root of the crowds headed from pastures to Bethlehem.
If you read the whole thing, you’ll see me extolling the value of what is probably the smallest Christmas light, ever, but:
But a million of those little moments occurring all over the place, are like the buzz of the hive, portending honey. Despite the extended marketing season that threatens everything to staleness, they help to keep Christmas fresh, ever ancient and ever new.
UPDATE: Tim Muldoon writes that the “War” about Christmas is about a deeper break in the notion of “tolerance” in the nation.
Others are also writing about the Christmas “War” idea:
Mark Shea: God Save us from the Christmas Inquisitors!
Ross Douthat: A Tough Season for Believers
We can snark all day along, every day, about how the Christian life is overshadowed by so much in our culture that is dark. Christmas brings it to the foreground, but the tendency is there always. Yet if we fight the tendency to succumb, we can ourselves be the turning point. Sometimes we are the ones who need to hear that voice of hope, sometimes it is those around us. Regardless, it is much needed and if we don’t do it, then who will?
Marcia Morrissey: Switching Gears as Christmas Nears
Frank Weathers on Madison Avenue Christmas