My Little Blue Book of daily reflections for the Advent and Christmas Seasons asked an intriguing question on January 7: Where do I find support for my family commitments and my religious commitments . . . and how do I support others in theirs?
This is not an idle question these days. The reflection also commented “to be faithful to your God is to be out of step with society. The rhythm of life today doesn’t always support family life. It doesn’t always support what we do in relationship to our religious community.” I find myself pondering this still, a couple of weeks into Ordinary Time. There are so many areas to apply these thoughts to, so many ways that living in consideration of a liturgical calendar is challenging in modern America. Christmas in particular is on my mind. I almost feel like I missed it this year.
I celebrated Advent, in the midst of Christmas shopping/party/preparations frenzy. Mostly I think it worked out okay. There were Advent programs at church, the reflection book, daily prayer, faith-sharing discussions. I felt ready for a joyful celebration. I felt prepared. Christmas Day arrive. We went to Midnight Mass. We had our kids over and shared a festive meal. We opened gifts and laughed together.
The tricky part for me was celebrating the Christmas season from December 26 on. December 26 I worked 8 hours as usual, as if nothing special had occurred. Discarded Christmas trees lined the sidewalks for disposal. No lights were lit at night in the neighborhood (except ours). Holiday displays were ripped down at stores, already replaced with Valentine’s Day merchandise. If Christmas was mentioned at all by anybody, it was with a sigh of relief that it was finally over with. What?
My kids went home. My mom went to Vegas. My husband focussed on the next football game. Life went on as if nothing had happened.
I expected perhaps some joyful celebration, or at least acknowledgement of the season, at our parish. But the office was closed, the priests left town for a little vacation. There wasn’t even daily Mass, let alone anything extra special to mark the season. Sure, they came back January 3, and we sang Christmas carols on January 1 (substitute priest) and the church was still beautifully decorated–but I felt a bit let down. Alone in a celebration of what I view as a communal holiday.
I don’t really know exactly what I expected, though. Perhaps I need to take charge of this myself, for myself, privately. Maybe being out of step with the world, trying to live more liturgically, will require this. I wonder if there is anybody out there who is willing to share their solutions to this situation. What do other parishes do/offer as celebration from December 26 through Epiphany? Anybody?