I admit I am a wimp. The best I am able to do is to slowly introduce Christmas decorations into the Church so that it all culminates with the creche at the very end of Advent. I would like to do more but it is such a fight with the retail and non-religious culture of Christmas that I have come up with a compromise I am not happy with but one that I can live with. I suspect most Lutheran pastors find themselves about where I am. No, we do not sing Christmas carols during Advent. Yes, we stretch out Christmas the full twelve days, culminating in a choral climax of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany. But we do put up more than just the "greens" before Christmas Eve. Alas, how hard it is to fight the tide of Christmas that begins in August and ends Christmas morning. I think I have blogged here before about how disappointing it is to me to see the real Christmas trees already lined up at the Dunbar State Park parking lot awaiting mulching for the park trails -- while driving to Christmas morning service!!!
I have wimped out (though not given over completely to the dark side like so many Christians, pastors, and churches) but I do know what we ought to be doing. Mollie Ziegler Hemingway has more backbone than I do. Her family's celebration of Christmas is what we all should be doing. Her model is hard to argue with and, if I had more courage, it would be the one I hold out for my people and my parish. You read her ideas and see if it is not persuasive!
Writing in the Federalist, Mollie says the more economical, stress free, and fulfilling celebration of Christmas is to buck the tide and celebrate TWELVE days like the song.
We have two main competing visions for how to celebrate Christmas in America. The first, which we could call the retail model, is undoubtedly the most popular. And it has a lot going for it as the primary mover of Christmas celebrations in this country. Beginning as late as Black Friday (the shopping day the day after Thanksgiving) or as early as July or August, it culminates with Christmas Day and then abruptly stops. No more Christmas music. No more greetings of “Merry Christmas!” . . .
Now, I really think people should celebrate the 12 days of Christmas because it’s the liturgically proper and beneficial way to mark the season. It just makes sense to have a preparation time followed by a celebration appropriate to God taking on human flesh to save us.
Okay, Mollie, you have won me over in my heart and persuaded my mind as well. Only one more thing, can you give me the courage to adopt this and the persuasive skills to sell it to my people?