So, a couple of days ago someone posted a meme on Facebook that said: Thou shalt not promote Christmas until Halloween and Thanksgiving have passed. Quite a few people had already hit “like” by the time I saw it. I didn’t “like” it. I don’t like it. I don’t agree.
Oh sure I am stunned when I start seeing Christmas decorations appear in stores in September. But when I do I remember that song from the musical “Mame” based on the book Auntie Mame: An Irreverent Escapade by Patrick Dennis. It comes at a point in the story when things don’t look good and everyone is depressed. Auntie Mame begins to sing, “Haul out the holly. Put up the tree before my spirit falls again. Fill up the stockings, I may be rushing things, but deck the halls again now. For we need a little Christmas right this very minute, candles in the window, carols at the spinet. Yes, we need a little Christmas, right this very minute. It hasn’t snowed a single flurry but Santa dear we’re in a hurry.” And if being in a hurry were the only motivation to decorate, I might agree that they need to wait. But it’s not. They need a little Christmas because they are losing hope and they some Christmas to remind them and renew their hope.
Unfortunately, decorations, music and special food don’t really instill hope. The best they can do is remind us of a time in the past when we felt hopeful. Still we persist with thinking that shopping and cooking and wrapping and exchanging gifts will make us feel better, or at least distract us from our malaise. Malaise knows no season. It comes unbidden and without mercy. When it does, we often long for Christmas – the most wonderful time of the year.
We attach a lot of traditions and excess to Christmas, but the essence of Christmas is that hope was born into this world as a human baby, completely dependant on the people around him to take care of him. We are the ones who continue to take care of that hope which depends on us to keep going. When a baby is born her needs come first and our needs become secondary. We must feed her and keep her warm. We must protect her and teach her. We must nurture. So it is with hope. We must feed and nurture the hope God has sent to us. We must do it every day, regardless of the season.
So if you are feeling a need for Christmas right now, I get it and encourage you to look for hope and nurture it. Even if we haven’t made it to Thanksgiving yet. Even after December 25 is long past. Christmas isn’t a season. It’s a lifestyle.