We’re into the second week of Advent now and our journey towards Christmas is well and truly begun. It’s easy to lose sight of that word “towards” and begin to convince ourselves it has arrived. I was in a shop during the week and the salesperson wished me a “Happy Christmas” and though I said thanks, I couldn’t bring myself to return the wish or even say “same to you”. Christmas is not here yet. To wish somebody Happy Christmas now would be like congratulating a couple on their Wedding Day even though the day hasn’t arrived, or singing “Happy Birthday” to somebody weeks before the actual birthday. While there might be “surprise” in that and certainly good intention, I think we’d all agree the timing is off.
Why this “rush” for Christmas? Is it to welcome the Saviour’s Birth? While we’d love to think so, the truth more likely lies elsewhere. It’s about creating a sense of the need to buy things, decorate houses “now” rather than at the more appropriate time that “is” Christmas. Again, imagine a party in your home – maybe to mark a Wedding Anniversary or a significant birthday. Let’s say it’s on the 8th January. Could you see yourself putting up balloons and ribbons for that party in December? Would the “drama” of the event, the colour of the celebration not be somewhat damaged and dampened by having the “things of party” in place weeks beforehand?
There’s something of this in our not letting Advent be Advent! It’s a bit maybe like the child in your car – you’ve just set out on the road to Dublin and though you’re not in Frenchpark the child asks “are we there yet?” The road has to be travelled before the destination is reached.
So maybe, and not for the sake of spoiling sport, we walk towards Christmas this year. Maybe we “yield” to the Right of Way that is Advent!