Earlier today, I was looking for an Advent calendar that we could start using with Luke and Ian. They’re 3½ now, and I think they’re at that age when they could really have fun with the whole idea of counting down to Christmas.
You would think that a decent, reusable Advent calendar wouldn’t be a difficult thing to find.
You would think.
But all I seemed to be able to come across were countdown calendars with Santa and Rudolph or snowflakes or snowmen or all about brightly wrapped presents.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m as much a fan of the “magic of Christmas” as the next person. I appreciate the joy and wonder Santa brings to children. I remember it fondly myself and look forward to watching that same joy and wonder in my own children’s eyes. Trust me: this is not an anti-Santa rant.
At the same time, we cannot deny that the consumerism of the holidays has exploded. Many of the craft stores have had holiday decorations and supplies on their shelves since before Halloween. Many of the major retailers have had their Christmas accoutrements out since the day after Halloween. And while there are some businesses who have vowed to remain closed on Thanksgiving Day so their employees can spend time with their loved ones, there are plenty of other stores who are open all day Thanksgiving Day. Just so we can buy more stuff.
As I sit and write this article, I keep having the words to the holiday classic “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas” running through my head:
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Ev’rywhere you go,
Take a look in the five-and-ten,
It’s glistening once again
With candy canes and silver lanes that glow.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,
Toys in ev’ry store,
But the prettiest sight to see
Is the holly that will be
On your own front door.
For so many, that is what Christmas looks like – gifts and toys and shiny packages and reindeer and red suits and twinkling lights.
And there’s nothing wrong with those things.
But they’re not the only thing.
There is a baby.
And a manger.
And a scared new mother.
And an overwhelmed father.
And a city too full to give them a proper place to stay.
There is a group of shepherds.
And glad tidings of great joy –
A pronouncement of salvation …
“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward all people!”
~ Luke 2:10-14
A Savior is coming – God With Us. God really and truly with us … up on the mountain tops, down in the dirt, laughing and crying, wondering and worrying, bringing Light and Love and Peace.