For years we’ve battled, Father Christmas and I, each trying to get a jump on the other. Some years I’ve beaten him to the chase, compiling Christmas lists and plans in January and February (yes, I can be a bit crazy-proactive at times!). Shopping and crafting in June, July and August. Wrapping in October and November. And feeling free to decorate, bake and hide out in December.
Other years, he’s had me and he knows it. He starts with that crazy Christmas-in-July stuff. He picks up steam in October, slipping bits of red and green amidst the peaceful calming colors of fall and peeking out from behind the Halloween costumes. (In fact, I suspect that may be why those Jack-o-Lanterns grin at me so eerily). The day after Halloween, he goes full throttle with the Christmas ads, commercials, and cheesy holiday donkey songs. The Salvation Army guys, bless their hearts, don’t help much, what with their tinny-sounding trumpets belting out Christmas tunes in wacky syncopation with their bell-ringing. It’s enough to make me want to hide out for the duration.
This year, I confess, I’m further behind than ever, if being ready for Christmas is measured by the number of cookies baked and presents bought and wrapped. And yet, I feel surprisingly more prepared than ever. Not ready as in ” gotta-get-my-house-in-perfect-order – company’s-coming.” Not hardly. But ready, as in willing to turn my eyes to the mystery of Immanuel. Ready, as in anticipating the season. Ready to embrace the One who came to save us from our sins. Ready to be reminded of the joys of giving – not things, but self.
Last year our church challenged us to approach the season differently, with a series entitled Advent Conspiracy, based on some suggestions presented by this organization. This year we’re doing the same. I peeked at the website and have been totally taken with this year’s theme: Give Presence. When it’s all said and done, isn’t that what matters most? That the Holy One of God came to dwell in us and among us. And really, what better gift can we offer others than the gift of our presence? Something in me loves the idea of conspiring against the status quo (take that, you sneering Jack-O-Lantern!) No, I won’t do Christmas perfectly. But in my heart I can honestly say “bring it on!” Or better yet – Come Lord Jesus!
(Disclaimer: the Father Christmas image is used here merely in jest – I’m a firm believer in St. Nick actually! Oh, and I like to think I got a jump on the old geezer by posting this prior to Black Friday!)