ANN BAILEY: The spirit of peace and goodwill can be shared all yearWhen I was a child, today, Dec. 26, was a big day for post-Christmas let-down. The weeks of anticipation leading up to the opening of Christmas presents was over and the only traces of it left the next day were the pieces of ribbons and wrapping paper that had escaped clean-up.
When I was a child, today, Dec. 26, was a big day for post-Christmas let-down. The weeks of anticipation leading up to the opening of Christmas presents was over and the only traces of it left the next day were the pieces of ribbons and wrapping paper that had escaped clean-up.
Sure, I had fun playing the games and reading the books that I had received for Christmas, but the feeling of excitement that came from wondering what the packages contained was gone. Though, birthday celebrations were a pretty big deal at our house, they didn’t quite measure up to Christmas, and not for 364 days would I be again able to look forward to such a big event.
A new perspective
Thanks to quite a few more birthdays and a deepening of my faith, I no longer experience the post holiday let-down. That’s because the religious celebration of Christmas, unlike the secular, begins, not ends, that day. Of course, I was taught that by my parents and religious education teachers as a child, but while I understood it in theory, I didn’t really comprehend it.
For example, I couldn’t understand why, in the Catholic tradition, we didn’t sing hymns such as “Joy to the World,” “Away in a Manger” or “Silent Night” until Christmas. I wanted to start singing them after Thanksgiving. After all, they were played on the radio, so why couldn’t we sing them at Mass, too?
Now, that I’m older and have a deeper understanding of my faith, I know that we don’t sing them because we are in the season of Advent, a time of preparation for the birth of our Savior. Then, on Christmas, when our waiting is over, we can proclaim that “Joy to the world, the Lord is come.”
Meanwhile, thanks to compact discs, I can continue to listen to Christmas music even though most of the radio stations cut it off at 12:01 a.m. Dec. 26.
Extending the season
Celebrating Christmas until Jan. 6, the Feast of Epiphany, also means that my family and I can enjoy our Christmas tree and decorated house until nearly a week into the new year. The same goes for extending Christmas greetings to family and friends.
Now that I’m older, I also look forward to these days after Christmas because they are a time when our family can be together. Our children have the week off from school and Brian and I usually have some time off of work. We play board games, go sledding and see a movie together, things we aren’t able to do during the rest of the year.
Perhaps the most important way to extend the Christmas season is to not limit its spirit of peace and goodwill. Instead, we should try to show people the kindness and generosity that are demonstrated at Christmas, throughout the year. Those are gifts that may be returned, but not because they didn’t fit or were the wrong style. To the contrary, if they’re returned it’s because the recipient realized their importance and wanted to share them with someone else.
I wish you a merry Christmas. And a Happy New Year, too.