Monday, January 2, 2012

Keeping Christmas (and no, this is not late!)

If you're like me, you've probably washed up on the shores of some mall over the past few days. I couldn't resist (having a few extra gift-shekels in my pocket after Christmas) proceeding, unlike the Three Wise Men, to my local bookstore to ponder a few delights. Alas, I was not guided by a star.

It was December 27, the Feast of John the Evangelist, still well within the Octave of the Nativity, and here I was, walking down the aisles of a famous bookseller, but wait! What was that I heard? My ears were straining to hear what I thought would actually be the appropriate music of the day – real Christmas Carols! But no, the commercial gods had deemed that the season was past; we were back to other classics, crooned by Frank Sinatra, Michael BublĂ©, and other famous whatnots.

Thank God I only partially live in this secular, time-warped marketplace! Christmas seems to be treated, like most things in this country, as a "what's next" kind of enterprise: work like crazy to get all the stuff done, make sure everything's ready to go (make that list! check it twice!), throw yourself into it for a few crazy minutes, then it's on to the next thing. Which, in the liturgical lexicon of our world, are the feasts they call Clearance Sales.

Notre Dame can be rather grey and quiet this time of year, and nevertheless I find it a very poignant time. It's a time to move with the ebb and flow of family. It's a time to actually savor the message of carols, take them in, ponder their meaning. It's a time to box a few things away, but all the same to dwell on the sacred memory of those things we are storing: pictures, moments, songs.

The mall, of course, has moved on. No time to savor out there. It's only "what's next." The problem is, it's always a series of what's next – no chance to ponder, to contemplate, to rejoice in what is, or what has been.

Despite all the signals around us, we still have time. Let us keep Christmas well! The season is not over, not in the least.

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