Each year for the past three decades or so I’ve encouraged people to avoid getting caught up in the Christmas rush so early in December, and instead make some time to enjoy the season of Advent. (Did I just type “so early in December”? What am I thinking?! It’s more like “so early in November”!)
Advent is a wonderful prayerful season. Also, it’s the perfect antidote to all the hoopla and folderol of the modern Christmas season. (How often do you see the words “hoopla” and “folderol” in a sentence that was written after 1942?)
Let’s face it: 99% of our modern holiday traditions have absolutely nothing to do with Christ. I mean, think about it. A singing snowman? Reindeer, with or without a blinking nose? Chopping down a tree and bringing it (along with a few dozen spiders) into the house? Installing enough flashing lights so your house can be seen from outer space? Eggnog? Figgy pudding (which is what, exactly? I have no idea)? Getting blind drunk at office parties?
The list goes on and on. And, of course, there is the main focus of the modern holiday season: maxing out your credit cards to buy expensive items that more often than not wind up in a cluttered corner of the basement by late March.
Therefore, here is some reverse psychology. Because of the way the calendar lands this year, the 4-week season of Advent is going to last exactly three weeks and one day. And the final day, the Fourth Sunday of Advent, is Christmas Eve. So guess how much Adventing is going to take place on that day? Right. Exactly zero.
(By the way, is “adventing” an actual word? I have no idea, and I suppose it doesn’t matter in our spelling-and-grammar-don’t-matter-anymore culture.)
So, here’s the reverse psychology: the season of Advent is so brief this year, you are going to completely miss it unless you make some effort right away to enjoy it. That makes sense, doesn’t it?
Yeah, you’re right. That is some seriously pathetic reverse psychology. As if people are going to scramble to acknowledge something they always ignore anyway.
Well, let me instead go back to my usual sales pitch this time of year. We really ought to pay attention to Advent because it is a major season on the liturgical calendar. If we do focus some of our time on Advent, two wonderful things will happen. First, when Christmas does finally arrive, it will be really exciting, rather than anti-climactic after six weeks of non-stop hoopla and folderol. (There are those words again!)
Therefore, take some time to enjoy Advent this year. If you have to, pretend the Advent wreath with candles is a mini Christmas tree. I guarantee you’ll enjoy it, even if there is very little hoopla and folderol.