I love Christmas,…when it comes. It is mid-November; not even Thanksgiving; not even Advent. At the nursing home, they’ve already put up a manger, a Christmas tree, and green boughs and lights everywhere. The halls are filled with Christmas music. Yesterday, people were wishing me “Happy Holidays” and “Merry Christmas.” I felt uneasy with it all. There was an expectation for me to join in the merriment of this “Christmas”, but it is mid-November; not even Thanksgiving; not even Advent. I don’t understand why we do this.
In the afternoon, as I tried to write orders in charts, a group of 12 elderly ladies came in wearing Santa hats and Christmas sweaters. They began singing Christmas carols; mostly secular tunes. There was general frivolity and ho-ho-ho-ing. Everyone was shouting “Happy Holidays” and “Merry Christmas.” I wondered if they expect to sustain this fervor daily for another 6 weeks; as if the elderly residents aren’t confused enough already. Again, I felt uneasy with it all. It is November. The trees are still orange and red and brown. It is not Christmas on any liturgical calendar. (You know, that religion-Jesus-Incarnation-Christianity thing?)
Then, the ladies started singing about a reindeer with a shiny nose, so I quickly completed my work and headed for the door. As I was heading out a woman came in, all cheery and filled with the November Christmas spirit, and asked, “Doesn’t this make you want to dance?” I replied, “It makes me want to leave the building.” Over my shoulder, I heard her angrily exclaim, “Grump!…Scrooge!” Then I heard a nurse come to my defense: “You don’t understand, he must be Jewish.” (I am not.) As the door closed behind me, I heard the woman say, “Oh,…I didn’t know. That was intolerant of me.”
What have we become? It is mid-November; not even Thanksgiving; not even Advent. Online, friends are posting on social media that they have their Christmas trees up and they are celebrating with Christmas music. They’re looking forward to getting out to the stores as soon as their Thanksgiving meal is finished up. What is this? It is mid-November; not even Thanksgiving; not even Advent.
I guess my response to Christmas in November, with all its gaudy and banal glitter, is to go deeper into prayer and communion with God; to seek always and in all circumstances the one Person necessary; to give thanks for life’s many blessings when Thanksgiving comes; to wait during Advent for the coming light of the world; and to celebrate when Christmas comes. In December.