One of my discoveries when I was becoming Anglican is that Christmas doesn’t end on Christmas Day; it begins on Christmas Day. (Or to be exact, it begins on Christmas Eve.) For Christmas is a season that lasts until Epiphany, January 6th.
And observing Christmas as a season has a lot of benefits. It takes some pressure off of getting one day, December 25th, just perfect. You don’t have to give all your gifts on that one day. You don’t have to complete your shopping before that one day. Yes, you don’t have to end up in pre-Christmas gridlock. You don’t have to get in a mad rush that turns Christmas into an ordeal.
You don’t have to take down the tree the day after Christmas (as my dear Grandma, suffering from post-Christmas let down, usually did). I keep mine up well into January. You can keep on celebrating. And if the first day or two of Christmas is disappointing for some reason, you still have ten more days to make up for it. Yes, Christmas really is twelve days, from Christmas Day to Epiphany.
I found this out after Christmas 2004. I wanted to go to an excellent traditional Christmas service that year. But there was not one that I could find near where I was visiting. Yes, I enjoyed being with family, but I came home disappointed.
But when I entered my favorite local Anglican church the first Sunday back, there were candles all along the walls, and a manger scene, and Christmas carols. It made me so happy I got a little teary-eyed.
When I talked to the rector afterward, I remarked that the service was like Christmas. He immediately replied, “It is Christmas.”
And so it was. Christmas is not just one day, but a season. And wouldn’t we enjoy it more if we celebrated it that way. No having to get *everything* done by Christmas Day. Less pressure. Not such a big let down if Christmas Day itself isn’t just perfect. And getting to enjoy a bit more Christmas at your pace if you like.
And if Aunt Edna turns up her nose at getting a gift from you a few days after Christmas, let that be her problem. I, like most people, enjoy the surprise of getting gifts a few days after Christmas.
And I like Christmas being a season, not just a day. That helps me to enjoy Christmas that much more.
May you have a very happy and unrushed Christmas.