Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Keeping the Christmas Lights On Through January

Here are some pictures of our Christmas tree, which is still standing in all the glory of its electric lights and polyvinyl chloride branches! I always like to give special attention to some of the hand-crafted wooden Christmas ornaments from Germany that continue to brighten up this time of year in our house. Our tree stays up through Epiphany week and beyond, because...

(1) ...we continue to celebrate the wonderful truth that God has come to dwell among us, and to reveal and give Himself to us. 

(2) January is dark and brutal enough to endure without having to kill the lights and dismantle our ersatz greenery. It perks up the house and our spirits during the cold month. There's no need to go through "post-Christmas withdrawal." 

(3) Our tree may be a cheap plastic imitation (aside from these nice ornaments) but it still carries our little family history and is an image of hope for the new “Tree of Life” in the eternal garden of a resurrected, transcendent Paradise for which we yearn. And we just put it up Christmas Eve. Why rush?

(4) February 2nd marks the “40 days” from Jesus’s birth to the rituals of the temple, the sacrifice of turtle doves, the joy of Simeon and Anna in seeing the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s promises to His people (see Luke 2:22-38). It remains a cultural tradition in some places to mark the full 40 days as the season of Christmas and Epiphany, and the old form of the Roman liturgy marks “Sundays after Epiphany” for these weeks (n.b. we follow the current “ordinary form” of the Roman rite where, liturgically speaking, the Christmas Season ends after this Sunday’s feast of Jesus’s baptism... but we can still keep up decorations and cheer through Candlemas). We also grab all the clearance-sale Pannetone and Stollen we can.

(5) When Ash Wednesday is approaching and we’re finally putting stuff away, we only feel like we’ve procrastinated for a few weeks instead of a month and a half. By that time we’ve had enough of the tree, and are🌲tired of bumping into it. Also, the iconic significance of the Nativity scene (in reference to Christ's infancy) is no longer apt for the season; the Scriptures read in the liturgy have passed on to the Lord’s public ministry and Lent’s preparation for sharing in the Easter mystery. 

But by that time, we’ve been carried through the worst part of Winter’s dark days, and I begin to have the first (usually vicarious) warm feelings of Spring when pitchers and catchers report to baseball’s Spring Training camps. Soon they will be playing meaningless exhibition games that will quickly be forgotten in April, but are like water in the desert for the thirst of a baseball enthusiast in late February.😉⚾