Christmas is done. The only thing left is to take down the tree and put all the decorations back in storage. Technically the Christmas season really continues until Epiphany on January 6. That is the day tradition holds that the wise men arrived and gave their gifts to Jesus. It’s more complicated than that, but we don’t have time for that. You know the song, The 12 Days of Christmas, well the events in that song start today and continue to Epiphany.
In centuries past, the Christmas season didn’t start in November. If you really had the time to study it, you’d find the celebration of Christmas has changed a lot over the centuries. The fact is that most of what we currently do, we made up – even the Christmas story itself. Our current festivities are based on a retelling after retelling of the story and adding details, dropping others and bringing in story lines from other faiths and belief systems. It gets complicated.
Even in my own life there have been changes. Perhaps the biggest change is in how I experience the holiday season. As a child, the excitement and anticipation was the main thing. We were waiting for Santa and the big Christmas meal. Getting a tree and decorating it was a big part of the fun.
As I age, many of the traditions and activities of my younger days start to loose their importance. Trees are nice, and we had two this year. One our regular artificial tree and the other a live tree that our 18 year old grandson wanted to get. It was fun to buy it and he did a lot of the work putting it up, but the real meaningful part of that day wasn’t putting up the tree. What meant the most was just spending time with him and his brother. We had lunch, bought a tree and so on … but even if we didn’t do anything other that talk and spend time with each other, the day would have been just as fun.
That’s where all the traditions come to just one point for me – they all act to bring us together in community, friendship and family. We didn’t have a big Christmas this year and decided to take our daughter to a restaurant for a meal instead of cooking. We still managed to overeat and over spend, but the real joy was just simply conversation with loved ones.