Christmas Season Rant

I was about to put this rant on my friend's facebook status (apparantly, the city of Charlottesville already lit their tree, and her son got his photo with Santa), but thought better of it. My own blog is a better forum for my more pointed opinions.

I still stick to the traditional dates here. I'll do my best to have an Advent wreath by next Sunday (I've never managed in the past, but now that I have a son I might get inspired to put more effort into traditions), but that will be the only decoration that goes up before Gaudete Sunday (pronounced gow-day-tay). And the wreath is more of a worship aid than decoration, really. To help us focus on the meaning of Christmas. So decorations will go up this year on 12/13 and stay up at least through 1/6/2010. The early weeks of December are not yet a time for rejoicing, but for the more somber reflection on what the second coming of Christ will mean for us. As a Catholic, Christmas is about Christ's birth, but it's also a time to remember that he will enter the world AGAIN and be mindful to be spiritually ready for that.

It's my pet peeve that radio stations play Christmas carols throughout Advent. I find it entirely inappropriate before Gaudete Sunday, and refuse to listen so I change the station. And it's annoying the last two weeks because I think it's still inappropriate to play the carols that celebrate the arrival of Christ's birth but there are other secular seasonal songs I don't mind singing then. So throughout the month of December (and late November in some cases), I pretty much have to stop listening to one of my favorite radio stations to avoid getting mad about this. But then the radio stations stop playing carols abruptly on Christmas day, just when I'm ready to sing carols for 12 days. . . The classical music stations are least egregious about all this, and I generally can tune in and hear proper Advent music during Advent, and Christmas music and even Epiphany music through the proper season.

I don't mind being festive early, but I clearly separate "Christmas" cheer from the secular spectacle that precedes it. And there are plenty of secular "Christmas" songs that I don't mind at any time, since they're more about snow, parties, family, etc.

And I don't care too much when the stores start putting up decorations since I don't expect retail merchants to be religiously observant, they're just trying to make a buck. It's unfortunate that relatively few people (even many Christians) understand the theological implications of Christmas, but it's not the job of stores and governments to educate them, and if the churches are falling down on the job, they're the ones that need to step up their effort. The merchants just pander to the masses, and if the masses like a secular spectacle, that's what they're going to get. I actually prefer when stores refer to a generic "holiday season" instead of Christmas, since that's more accurately what the merchants are celebrating, so it doesn't offend me.

I'm ambivalent about Santa Claus, but this webpage has a reasonable way to present him, since kids do like Santa Claus, and he is omnipresent this time of year.