It’s time to buck the trend this Christmas. It is time to resist peer pressure and be counter-cultural. I know that’s a hard thing to do. After all, I’m an expert on going along with peer pressure. I went to high school in the 1970s—also known as “the decade that fashion forgot.” Over 40 years later my kids still get a kick out of digging out my high school yearbook and laughing at the photos. “Look at those clothes!” they exclaim. “Look at that hair! What were you thinking?!”
Well, what I was thinking at the time was: “This is how everyone else is dressing. This is how everyone else is wearing their hair. I want to go along with the crowd.” And the sad result was bell-bottom pants, platform shoes, a yellow paisley shirt with a collar so large and pointy it could draw blood, and the goofiest Prince Valiant haircut you ever saw. (I’ve made it very clear to my kids that if they so much as snap a single photo of my yearbook with their smart phones and post it on the Internet, they are SO out of my will.)
I understand that following the crowd and not making waves is the easy, safe, and comfortable thing to do. But now it is time to take a stand. And the issue about which we must take a stand is this: the Christmas Season.
According to our modern American culture, the Christmas Season begins the day after Halloween. (Although in the stores it begins around Labor Day.) The Christmas Season slowly percolates during November, and then the moment the turkey dinner is finished on Thanksgiving afternoon, the Christmas Season kicks into high gear. It then continues at a frenetic pace until reaching a smashing crescendo on the morning of December 25th when zillions of presents are unwrapped. But then, by mid-afternoon the Christmas Season is pretty much over, and people start looking forward to the New Year’s holiday. One of my neighbors dismantles his Christmas tree seemingly moments after the last present is opened. I usually see the stripped carcass of a pine tree, save for a few snagged pieces of tinsel, out by the curb in front of his house on the morning of December 26th.
However, the reality of the situation is this: the Christmas Season doesn’t even BEGIN until the evening of December 24th at the Christmas Eve Vigil Mass. All of December before that moment is the all-but-forgotten season of Advent. Then, once Christmas Day arrives, the Christmas season continues for the next twelve days. Other than having to endure the tedious song by the same name, the Twelve Days of Christmas are a wonderful way to prolong the joy of the season, and of course, help us to remember the true reason for the season: Jesus. The twelfth day of Christmas, January 6th, is the feast of Epiphany, also known as Three Kings Day. (The “We Three Kings” song also is kind of tedious. I prefer that other Epiphany song by Jay and the Americans: “This Magi Moment.”)
So this is the time to be counter-cultural. This is the time to buck the trend, resist peer pressure, and celebrate the true Christmas season. Christmas does NOT begin in early Fall and continues for weeks and weeks and weeks before concluding on December 25th. Christmas BEGINS on Christmas Day (or the Christmas Eve Vigil) and continues right through New Year’s and doesn’t end until January 6th.
This year, don’t get caught up in the culture’s idea of the Christmas Season. It’s shallow and fake. Instead, celebrate the real Christmas Season, the season that focuses on the Lord. After all, ending the Christmas Season just as it really begins is as silly as bell-bottoms, platform shoes, and Prince Valiant haircuts.