Thursday, December 05, 2013

Putting off Christmas

December 5 and the only evergreen branches visible in my living room, real or fake, are scraping against the window--from the outside.

I come from families of German heritage, where Christmas trees didn't go up until very, very close to Christmas. It wasn't quite the old-fashioned tradition of the tree being decorated behind closed parlor doors and revealed to the children of the family only on Christmas Eve. But the Christmas trees of my childhood were never up before December dates had reached the 20s. And this continues in my household (though not my sisters').

This feels so virtuous, so self-denying. Practice delayed gratification even in the celebration of holidays.

Sometimes it seems like this is what we're celebrating in Advent--our ability to put off Christmas, to hold the world at bay while we reenact our Advent rituals. We follow the rules (mostly) and focus on the prophets and the Advent wreath. We deny ourselves now to increase the pleasure--oops, meaningfulness--of celebrating Christmas at the end of the month.

What does that do to Advent?

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