There are seasons to Christmas: one adapts to the times while keeping the old traditions best one can.
Some years, in some places, there is plenty and the feasting is unrestrained. Other times, the faithful cannot even go to Bethlehem and those there must celebrate alone, keeping the customs best they can. Every year is as the year is and we adapt to the limits, adopt new jollities when they appear, and bring forward the good that we can.
As little boys, my brother and I would dance about loudly singing, joyfully singing, the fraction of the song December the 25th, that we could recollect from one network television viewing of Scrooge. In the old times, gentle reader, there was not repeat viewing or YouTubes. I think that one show made me determined to be a modern day Fezziwig: the generous employer in Christmas Carol that allowed people to rejoice at Christmastide.
My age and weight have caught up with the role and my love of Christmas remains undimmed: achievement unlocked. I now dance with Hope in our kitchen. Tonight we will see Mom and Dad at Brother Daniel’s and watch the liturgy with them: shut-in solidarity! This Christmas morning the day will dawn with just the two of us: Mr and Mrs Fezziwg. This is a new jollification; romantic Christmas again! We will feast on Boxing Day and all the grownup children, a friend or two, will come on Third Day for the Toasts and roast beast.
Gloriously different in 2020 is key. There is no normal outside of the City of God.
One begins as the children rushing to the treats under the tree becomes the young people looking for mistletoe, transition to harried parents with adorable children rushing for treats under the tree, and then become with God’s grace the founder of the feast: the Fezziwig.
We celebrate the Holiday as the Holiday finds us and the world.
We bring the gifts of our memories to this Feast. We bring our decorations and customs. The world changes, powers fall, and new nations arise. There will be no liturgy in Hagia Sophia, but she is kept in our hearts in safety for all time. We will not forget or allow tyrants to dim our joy. We will remember and celebrate.
My Nana and Papaw, Granny and Papaw, Uncle Roddy, Aunt Karen, Father Michael, Phil, Al, Uncle Charlie, Cousin Mike. . . The list of absent friends grows longer and I can no longer hope to list all of them. They are not absent, of course, just not here in the same way. They are here, a great crowd at feasting more splendidly with us, but we cannot quite see them yet.
We toast them, recollect them, and ask for their prayers.
We circle the eternal fact of the Holy Night and do what we can to celebrate, a foretaste of the eternal Holiday to come. There no chair will be empty, no one will be missed, and all will be well forever and ever.
December the 25th? Correct!
Bring on the new feast with the accumulated joys of the two-thousand and twenty years of joy to the world.
Advent is ending and the Feast begins: Christmastide. Until Epiphany, another great feast, we will celebrate God coming to us and ending our loneliness. Christmas Eve is wonderful, because this day we have all the holiday before us. The English speaking West traditionally has counted Twelve Days and that is our family custom.