For all I know, there could be “chestnuts roasting on an open fire” after someone “saw mommy kissing Santa Claus” due to the fact that he gave her “five golden rings” and then fixed her some “figgy pudding.” There is no doubt about “busy sidewalks” these days with some “children laughing,” thrown in for good measure, but look further and examine the “people passing.” Indeed you won’t be meeting “smile after smile,” but more likely a frantic frown after a frantic frown. Any bells “ring-a-linging” may be silver, but they’re set inside a clock indicating how the number of shopping days until Christmas is tick, tick, ticking away.
Call me a “Bah! Humbug!” if you wish, but these days I am in no rush for ornaments, tinsel, lights bulbs, nativity scenes, or even Santa Claus to dominate the front lawn or family room.
Surely, no December calendar needs to be turned to alert the arrival. My cue comes from my favorite contemporary Christian radio station that annually does a 180 come Thanksgiving Day and plays nothing but Christmas music, seven days a week and 24 hours a day. Ho, Ho, no, not again!
Who knows, maybe I’m getting more crotchety and less Bob Cratchit in my old age? As a pastor who heralds from a church tradition that tends to pride itself on following a liturgical calendar with seasons of the year the likes of Advent, Epiphany, Lent and Pentecost, it appears I have come to strangely embrace these peculiarities of ecclesiastical ritual.
According to that ancient calendar, as of last Sunday anyway, we are in the season of Advent until Christmas Day arrives and not a moment before. Yes, “Advent” is a pretty churchy term having limited usage outside our sacred spaces. For those having some history in the Christian Church of a traditional variety, they would know this season as a time of preparation for Christ’s coming as a babe born in Bethlehem, and also an occasion to ponder the implications of the hoped-for promise of his coming again.
Still, the truth is, and check out any church hymnal, there aren’t many longstanding favorites or major hits for Advent aside from perhaps “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” or “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.”
Hence, when black Friday shows up on the calendar, I turn a shade of red, a result of the onslaught of Christmas music that immediately reverberates from all directions. It’s almost audible how I murmur to myself, “Don’t these people know that it’s the Season of Advent and not Christmas yet?”
No, I’m not opposed to the Little Drummer Boy, Jolly Old St. Nicholas, Rudolf, Frosty or even some “partridge in a pear tree.” Yes, I’d prefer that grandma doesn’t get run over by a reindeer, that the Grinch wasn’t such a mean one, and that regular dental hygiene insures I retain my two front teeth and the ones in back, too.
There is no dreaming about a white Christmas, though I prefer that to a blue one should it be true that “the weather outside is frightful!”
I did surprise myself this year as I zip-stripped some lights to our front porch railing earlier this week, but that was my mistletoe moment. The effort was due diligence for staying in the good graces of my wife who put “put up lights” on Monday’s version of the holiday’s “honey-do-list!”
Having mediocre skills at exterior illumination, I still managed to find all but two-feet of working icicle lights from last year’s strand. That in itself had to be a virtual Christmas miracle given their single season warranty. With a satisfactory Grinch-like smile, I pulled out some packing tape, wadded up the bad bulbs in a bunch, and hide them behind the front porch railing. Out of sight, out of mind!
My go to decoration, however, is the laser light that I can put up in 30 seconds by shoving a stake in the ground in the middle of the front yard. Plug it in and voila, we’re the envy of the neighborhood.
Don’t bother looking for a decorated tree out the bay window of our home, at least not yet. That won’t be going up until next weekend when some of the grandkids come over for the annual hide-and-seek trip to the Christmas tree farm. Hopefully they’ll have one left that’s higher than three feet with a few branches worthy for trimming.
The momentum of the Christmas season cannot be derailed even if I try. For the vast majority, it’s not only “beginning to look a lot like Christmas,” it seems like its “ev’rywhere you go.”
I’m in no hurry. I can wait. Who knows, maybe because of all that, “I’m gettin’ nuttin’ for Christmas?” That being said, I’ll still offer this “simple phrase to kids from 1 to 92.” Blessed Advent to you, and on the 25th of the month, Merry Christmas, too!
Ken Pollitz moved to Ottawa in 1991 as mission-developer/pastor of New Creation Lutheran Church. His biweekly column provides insights and viewpoints from Putnam County. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org