Thursday, December 14, 2006
the Light of the World
I am in a quandary about our Christmas lights. In my Christmas mania, I always want to have the decorations up during the week before Christmas, especially the lights, so I can enjoy them as the holiday approaches.
This is, of course, exactly the wrong thing to do. What I want and what needs to happen are almost always at odds. I can handle it. I'm a nun.
It's fine for you and your children if you want to light your house like a UFO just landed for the entire month of December, but for me, a person who has a moral obligation to guide, I must restrain myself.
The whole point of having lights at all at Christmas time is because Jesus is the light of the world. And the whole point of having Christmas in December instead of the springtime when He was actually born is to show the Light coming back into the world.
The Church now believes that Jesus was born in the spring because the shepherds were out in the fields with their flocks. Rumor has it the shepherds don't do that in the winter. Also, people wouldn't have been asked to travel for a census in the winter. Unless they were trying to get rid of a few people so they wouldn't have to count so high.
And I don't think I'm telling you there is no Santa Claus when I mention that there was a big old pagan holiday that the early Christians glommed onto to keep the flock happy. The History Channel let fly with that little bomb years ago. It's okay. It was a stupendously good idea. Folding the pagan holiday into a Christian one brought us a lot of Christmas goodies like the tree and the yule log. It all worked out beautifully for everyone since the timing had the wonderful symbolic meaning of the shortest darkest days giving way to longer days again.
That was a smooth move.
So it is just wrong to put our Christmas lights on before the big day, which leaves me only a week of Christmas lights as I can't handle having the Christmas decorations around until the Epiphany. By then everything just looks so saggy, the opposite of what it all stands for.
Sister St. Aloysius and I keep up the manage scene, both at home and at the Church until the Magi arrive. We have to watch out that no one does anything to the Church Nativity scene. Every since I saw that episode of Dragnet where the Baby Jesus is stolen from the church and Joe Friday is so disgusted but it turns out it's a young Mexican boy who asked the Baby Jesus for a wagon for Christmas and got the wagon and took the Baby Jesus out for a ride, I have been nervous about people disturbing the manger scene. You don't know what people will do these days. I saw in the news just today that someone took the light up Baby Jesus out of an old man's front yard manger scene and replaced it with a beer can. Ho. Ho. Ho. How funny will it be when they are burning in Purgatory, I wonder?
Sister St. Aloysius does like to keep adding sheep the whole time at home. We can't do that in the church. The sheep are too big. Anyway it's very symbolic, but I think she just likes the sheep. After New Year's extra sheep are about all I can deal with.
I will have to content myself with driving around a bit at night to take in the lights. I especially enjoy those houses which are decorated to within an inch of their lives, a phenomena I call "wretched excess". My favorite are the people who go stark raving mad and put up an entire lit up manger scene AND the light up Nutcracker with a Santa on the roof AND Christmas stars AND snowmen AND anything else they could find on e-bay that has a light bulb inside it. With music. Don't tell Al Gore that they are over their Co2 limit or whatever that is.
I don't mind that some of it is 'secular'. Nothing is secular at Christmas. Why do we buy gifts? Because the shepherds and the wise men bought gifts. Why do we have a tree? Because it's an evergreen tree that shows that Jesus is always with us. The Nutcracker was a Christmas gift, a tradition that celebrates Jesus. Santa having a Coke is just a saint who enjoys a soft drink now and again. It's all good. With an angel on top.