Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Are you ready for Christmas? If not, you should be. Right? (That's what the commercials seem to tell us, at least.)
It feels like we should have our houses all decked out for Christmas already. My favorite radio station has been playing Christmas music 24/7 since November 16. It's almost impossible to escape from this secular Christmas season, which ends abruptly on December 26 – just as the Catholic world is getting started on the Christmas season.
It's hard to avoid, this inundation of Christmas starting in early November (if not sooner). It's hard not to get pulled in; it's difficult not to turn to that radio station and listen to some Christmas music, or to wait to decorate the house and put up the tree. But what about Advent? Most people know it's a season of waiting, but it seems like pretty much all we wait for these days is the presents on Christmas morning which thus shifts our focus of Christmas from the Incarnation to toys. If we treated Advent like we should, and waited longer to decorate the house, to listen to Christmas music, to put up the tree, maybe Christmas wouldn't end up being so materialistic. We'd be forced to remember why we decorate and celebrate – is it just because it's December and everyone else is, and we love the pretty decorations, the songs, the food? Or is it because at Christmas we celebrate the birth of our Savior, and everything we do at Christmas should put our attention on Jesus instead of the too-secularized holiday?
I love this time of year. I really do love the decorations and the music and the cheesy movies and everything else – although not before Thanksgiving. I'm not sure if I'd be able to wait until December 24 for all of that, even if it lasted until the Feast of the Baptism. There's something nice about celebrating when everyone else is (although what they're actually celebrating, in many cases, is questionable, to say the least). But there are so many great feasts to celebrate in the month of December, aside from Christmas. There's St. Nicholas, St. Lucy, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (a Holy Day of Obligation), not to mention Advent itself. We should give them more attention than they currently get, instead of losing them in the hustle and bustle of Christmas planning and shopping and decorating.
What do you do to keep Advent a season separate from Christmas? How do you keep the focus of Christmas on Christ, especially for children?