Like Any Other Day
The older I get, the less magic Christmas seems to me. It becomes more and more an ordinary day with perhaps slightly more pomp or gatherings or hassle. There are a number of reasons for this personally in my life, mostly dealing with rotating family schedules that mean we “do” Christmas on some other day whenever we can get together, and so at times, Christmas really is just another day where nothing special happens.
Perhaps it is partially a function of expectation level. For example, when I was in 4th or 5th grade or so, I really caught on to the whole Santa thing and made lists of all the toys I wanted. I got none of them, and when this repeated itself year after year, it didn’t take too many years to get to the point where Santa was a fun novelty, but nothing special, certainly nothing real. I lowered my expectations and moved forward and stopped investing emotional energy into the elf, and learned to enjoy Santa for what he was, nothing more or less.
I see the same thing happening with Christmas in general. We Americans have a rich romantic image of Christmas that rarely matches the reality, even on the best years. And now, with everyone too busy to stop and enjoy life and savor the spirit of celebration, even our parties harry us. It just becomes a busier time of year on top of already busy lives, but we have to somehow make room for it.
It is terribly easy to fall into complete apathetic cynicism when one reaches that point. Yet, if we will choose to take it, there is a silver lining. Christ didn’t come for Christmas. He came for every day of our lives. If our lives are in Christ, then the magic of that one day is nice but not necessary, as long as all of the days of our years are lifted higher because He came.
The magic is not embodied in the Day, it is the fullness of the Person. If we have the Person, then all days are blessed. Without the Person, even the Day’s magic is mere tinsel. Advent is not about preparing our hearts for a Day. Advent prepares us for the coming of the Person, and that Person is here for all of our days.
This is revealed by the great carol, which does not say: “Joy to the World—the Day is Come”
Instead, “Let earth (and us) receive her King! Let every heart prepare Him room!
The Day will pass quickly away, and night return. The Person is here to stay, and Light dispel the gloom.