Friday, December 23

Gloria in Excelsis Deo

I love Advent.  I love Christmas.  I love Epiphany.  I love all the holiday holy days.  And I love everything that goes with them.  I love mistletoe, plum pudding, Stir-Up-Sunday, holly and ivy, Advent wreaths, nativity scenes, caroling, sleigh rides, Christmas trees, jingle bells, pecan pie, Martinmas, Little Pascha, wassailing, Twelfth Night, reindeer sweaters, fruit cake, twinkling lights, egg nog, gift giving, card exchanging, red plaid vests, Lessons in Carols, mantle decorations, Boxing Day, and Saint Nick.  I love all the beautiful sights, the wonderful sounds, the cherished recollections, the delectable tastes, the pungent aromas, the brisk winds, the early nightfalls, the sentimental old movies, the Chesterton poems, the big family reunions, the snug evensongs, and the chestnuts roasting on open fires.  I love the salutations of “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Holidays,” “Feliz Navidad,” “Noel,” “Joy to the World,” and even the occasional, odd “Season’s Greetings.”

I love it all—well, almost all.  I confess I’m not a shopper and I just about never go to malls, so I have a hard time reconciling the more commercial aspects of the season with my love of Yuletide.  So, no Black Friday, Blue Light special, Groupon, or Sweet Jack sales for me.  But, I love pretty much all the rest of it.

The fact that I love Christmas hardly makes me unique, of course.  Christmas is nearly everyone’s favorite time of year because it is adorned with so many special celebrations, happy memories, delightful stories, wonderful songs, and rich recipes.  It is a season of selfless giving, expressive love, and poetic joy.  It is a time for family togetherness, for snuggling up to the hearthside, for recalling legends and fables, and for celebrating the things that matter most. 

Of course, while many of the richest and most satisfying aspects of the season have passed into common practice, their meaning and significance have often been shrouded in forgetfulness, neglect, ignorance, superstition, or misunderstanding.  Alas, this has meant that their greatest pungency, power, and purpose has been lost to us.  But, this too has led to something I love: explaining all the whys and wherefores of our most cherished holiday traditions, observances, and rituals to others.  I love the surprise, delight, and insight that always comes with teaching and learning—especially at Christmastime.  I love the fact that at Christmas, the wonder and the promise of the Gospel is so easy to talk about, so easy to express, so delightful to exclaim.

So, from all of us here in beautiful Franklin, “Gloria in excelsis deo, et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntaries. Ubi caritas gaudet, ibi est festivities." Blessed Yuletide!

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