Pastoral Ponderings: Christmas is really a season

Speaking of a joyful Christmas season in this week’s religion column

Robin King

Pastoral Ponderings

I hope you’re having a joyful Christmas.

You can have a merry one, too, and a happy one, but it isn’t always, and a few weeks back, I said that I would wish for everyone’s Christmas to be “joyful.” I mean that, so, joyful Christmas to you.

And no, this isn’t a column that’s a week late. It’s still Christmas. Despite the number of memes that appeared on Boxing Day that say “ONLY 364 DAYS TIL CHRISTMAS” — often with the super excited face of Will Ferrell as Buddy, the elf — it’s still Christmas.

Technically, it’s a season. If you follow the church’s calendar, Christmas lasts – as a season – until Epiphany on January 6. That’s when we celebrate the arrival of the magi with their gifts and it’s a whole season, too. So, there’s twelve days worth of Christmas, just like in the song. So if you’re not following the church calendar, there’s still the traditional “Twelve Days of Christmas.” And don’t forget the traditions that celebrate Christmas on January 6 (Armenian Church) or 7 (Orthodox Church).

Still, some people like to get their decorations up early, do all the partying ahead of time and then take everything down and put it away on Boxing Day. That sounds like a good idea, “boxing” everything. Except that’s not the origin of Boxing Day. It dates from the 1600s in England when servants, trades people and others could expect to receive a gratuity of some kind, usually in the form of a Christmas box containing gifts, food and drink. Since they would likely have worked Christmas Day, they received it the following day. In other countries, the “box” is thought to refer to the Alms Box in churches which collected donations for the poor and sick, some of which was dispensed the day after Christmas on St. Stephen’s Day (remember “on the Feast of Stephen” in Good King Wenceslaus?). It’s a day of gratitude and thankfulness, not just for the day but the year before and the year ahead.

Remember, too, that at the heart of the story of Christmas Day (and we can debate “December 25” another time) is a birth. No matter what traditions, decorations or stories we add to it, it comes down to a story about the arrival of a little baby. So, yes, if you sang “Happy Birthday” to Jesus at some point, like we did at least once at our church, that’s appropriate. Thing is, though, despite those who celebrate a “Birthday Week” or even a “Birthday Month” (yikes), we tend to celebrate the day of our birth and, sadly, not the whole year. Why wouldn’t you celebrate you every day? After all, a birth day is just the beginning of a life.

In celebrating Jesus’ birthday, I believe we need to remember that Jesus is alive in each of us the other 364 days of the year, too. All that he taught, all the care and compassion and love that he shared, all of the wonder of life that he showed, all that began in this birth. Don’t wait a whole year to celebrate it.

I know it’s easier said than done. There’s so much happening in the world that can dissuade us, so much around us that can make it difficult to live out what Jesus taught. But in birth is promise. New life brings new possibilities and every day, God invites us to new life in the promise of this child born in Bethlehem.

So, maybe don’t leave your decorations up all year. But maybe have a birthday week or month to remind yourself of the life Jesus lived and the one you live every day of the year. Maybe share that with others.

As Dickens’ Scrooge said “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!” Amen.

Just Posted

Environment Minister clarifies misconceptions in Bighorn proposal

Minister Shannon Phillips speaks to concerns around the Bighorn Country

Snowfall adds some delay to morning commute

The QE2 and area road conditions in central Alberta were partly snow covered

Bashaw Stars peewee team wins against Ponoka

The peewee Stars played a solid game against the peewee Ponoka Stampeders

STARS meets with Ponoka County on campaign for new choppers

The emergency services organization is looking at nine new choppers for its three provinces

Bashaw voices no doubt to be heard on water

Council to hold Jan. 17 meeting at community hall with expected public participation

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Judge denies requests from Calgary couple charged in son’s death

David and Collet Stephan wanted $4 million to pay for past and future legal bills

Innisfail RCMP arrest two men attempting to sell stolen property

A large amount of music equipment and instruments had been stolen

Fashion Fridays: Inspirational gym outfits

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Company issues lifetime ban after man jumps from cruise ship

Nick Naydev posted the video last week showing him standing on the balcony of the Symphony of the Seas

Unruly passenger forces B.C.-bound flight to divert to Calgary

Police say charges are pending against a woman in her 40s

Pro-immigration rally planned for Red Deer on Saturday

Rally taking place outside Red Deer City Hall from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Inflation rises as higher airfares, veggie prices offset cheaper gas

Statistics Canada says inflation accelerated to two per cent in December

Bower Place expansion plans underway

Red Deerians can expect Sunterra Market and Marshall’s

Most Read