Is This You? A calendar with doors
December 8, 2017
We have an advent calendar. It's cute and means Christmas is nearing. It has the required 25 little doors. One to open each day from Dec. 1 all the way up to the big day, Dec. 25. Behind each door there is a little surprise and each one has some meaning denoting the coming of the Christian side or the Santa side of Christmas. See, our advent calendar and our family are equal opportunity Christmas celebrators. A door may be hiding an angelic angel or a teddy bear holding a gift or maybe a cross with a red ribbon and berries. And isn't that where the rub comes to the surface so often during this holiday season? Christianity vs. commercialism.
It's like this guy I saw on television the other day. His family really, really wanted to celebrate Christmas, but they are Jewish so they celebrate Hanukkah. So he made this little stuffed guy with Jewish attire and a beard holding a menorah, but his family was going to put it up next to their Christmas tree and celebrate everything.
Another family I know is Christian and they wouldn't have anything to do with Santa, no way, no how. But they buy just a few gifts and have a tree. No, Santa doesn't bring the gifts. Their thinking, I think, is that buying a gift for a loved one is like buying a gift for you know who by osmosis. Which is quite endearing. Now with all that said, here is what usually happens with our advent calendar.
There are hearty souls among us that have the foresight to celebrate Thanksgiving and put up a Christmas tree at the same time or very shortly thereafter. I believe these are the ones the advent calendar is meant to be correctly celebrated with. They are at the ready on the first day of December. Opening that little door to get the tiny tree. Or, in this day and age, many people buy a new cardboard calendar every year stuffed with silver foil covered chocolate figures and gold foil covered chocolate coins. So opening that door is rewarded with a sweet surprise. What you do if you have more than one little one upon opening a new door is, hopefully, decided before each door is opened. This is not us.
Dec. 1 and the countdown begins. Each day is an event to open the advent calendar. Some evenings, if a new gift is added under the tree, the sounds of squeaky voices saying, "Come on mom, just ONE present-puleezzee?" can be heard. This is not us either.
Our advent calendar comes out when we put up our tree because it is stored with all our other Christmas decorations. In a box. In the shed. On the Christmas shelf. So, along about the 15th or so we get all the goodies out and the advent calendar comes out, too. Doors opened up until the current day and the surprises found in the past-day doors are put, well, in a bowl that sits on our table that will eventually hold all the little wonderful decorations. This is us!
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See, I believe the advent calendar is really for the kids. That expectation. That surprise. That magical mysterious awesomeness of Christianity and commercial Christmas. But let's face it: We are still children at times. Christmas is one of those times. I still feel the doors that open daily until the big day hold magic and hope, so my heart beats a little faster with everything that goes with opening those 25 doors comes into play.
However, yes again a however. However, the reason for the season should be first and foremost, and it is in my heart and the heart of my church family. But I do not forget the child side of Christmas. I believe there is room in my heart for both as long, and this is a big thing for me, as long as the true meaning of Christmas is taught and believed in. I see the commercial side as part of my celebration of the season. It's a holiday which is by definition, "in commemoration of an event." And wow, what an event we get to celebrate. The sights, sounds, food, merriment, gifts and prayers.
Our pastor just this last week challenged us "pew warmers" to go out and tell of the good news in the weeks to come. I find that both hard and easy. When you have good stuff to back up what you say — that makes it easy. But finding that chink in the armor of those you talk to — that's hard. Often at this time of the year various people you run across will show that chink in their hope. So say "Merry Christmas" and more if the opportunity is there. And add a "ho, ho, ho" if you feel it will help send the message home!
Merry Christmas! I wish you peace and happiness and all the best within the gifts behind the doors of your life and the promise of thereafter. No pressure there, huh?
Trina Machacek lives in Eureka, Nevada. Share with her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Really!