In the secular world we inhabit in the U.S. in 2018 it is easy to forget that the season which ushers in “The Holidays” is called Advent, and it is the first season in the Christian calendar. Traditionally this has been a time of reflection and anticipation in preparation for the Christmas season, which actually starts on Christmas day, not at the ending of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I plead guilty to being a secularist myself despite my loyal, active participation in our neighborhood Episcopal Church. Being both a secularist and a “churchman,” however, I often find myself asking the question this time of year: what is going on here.
The irony is that if Advent is supposed to be a time of contemplation and slowing down, for many it is the exact opposite. Office holiday parties, holiday get-togethers, open houses, Christmas shopping, meal preparations—all this adds up to a lot of stress. On the other hand, for many the holiday season often reinforces and reminds people of their loneliness and isolation. It turns out that this is a pretty stressful and difficult time for many.
So what am I going to do about it? Here are my Advent resolutions:
One: Try to think less about Trump and avoid watching Morning Joe. Put Faux News on hold.
Two: Try to think more about family, friends and loved ones.
Three: Appreciate the many blessings in my life.
Four: Try to be kind and considerate of others—especially those less fortunate.
Five: Try to remember what this season is really all about in the first place: It is about hope. It is assurance that days will start to get longer again and the world will not end in darkness. It is a reminder that there is a higher purpose in this life and that life on the planet Earth has profound meaning. Christmas is ultimately about God’s love for us humans. While I confess to being a universalist theologically (“one destination, many pathways”), that does not mean that God was not present in the person of Jesus or that the birth of Jesus is not a special and holy event to be honored and celebrated.
Now whether I succeed in my resolutions is another matter. Putting aside the sordid stories about “Individual-1” will be particularly challenging. If matters get really dicey, I may sneak in a Faux News Special. But I will try not to.
Best wishes and many thanks to you, my loyal blog followers. I do not know who you all are but do know a bunch of you and am deeply grateful. May your “Holiday Season” be contemplative and without excess stress and may the mystery of its meaning not be lost.