Here we are at the halfway mark through the season of Christmas and I'm reminded of the differences between the secular Christmas and the religious Christmas. This past Sunday, the congregation I attend had a Christmas "Lessons and Carols" service, four days after everyone was relieved to have "Santa Baby' stop wafting through the air. The kids at our church don't tell the Christmas story in pageant form until next Sunday, by which time, I suspect some Christmas toys have already gotten boring, broken, or lost.
And the only place you'll still find a Christmas tree up (or in my congregation's case, greenery, wreaths and Christmas lights) is in a Church building. Even most Christians have their tree down long before the Feast of the Epiphany.
Yes, the sort of Christians who follow the old church calendar, we're a bit out of step with the culture this time of year.
And I like it.
In face, I was musing a few days before the First Day of Christmas how nice it would be to celebrate the Incarnation without all the stress and expectations of gift-buying and giving and, of course, getting.
Except that's pretty well what I'm doing now. I continue to remember it's Christmastide, I continue to think on and ponder the Incarnation (although, to be fair, I think on the Incarnation pretty well, all year-round---my practice as an artist is practically based upon it), and all my Christmas shopping (what little I do) is well over.
And the secular Christmas isn't too terribly awful. If I think we could do without the stress involved in gift-giving and making sure everyone on the list is covered, I also think that gift-giving is a nice custom. If I think we, as a culture, tend to go way overboard on this custom, I do admit to enjoying giving my modest gives---and getting the few I get.
So halfway through the season, I'm feeling less humbug about it all than I maybe did three weeks ago, and I still remain in awe of what it means for God to be enfleshed like us, for us to bear the same Image.