This time of year always seems to blur together for me. Planning costumes for Halloween rolls into Thanksgiving rolls into Christmas rolls into the new year. I used to try to place boundaries on the holidays, but with the work I currently do–writing, particularly about faith–Christmas season begins in October, if not before.
In order to study and prepare for writing my yearly Advent series, I have to plan ahead, and that means thinking Christmas before Halloween, which as you can tell, is well before Thanksgiving. Before I really felt the ambition to “be” a writer and consistently add new content to my website, I directed a few Christmas programs at church. That role was the first time my holiday boundaries were officially challenged. In order to have enough practice times for the kids to learn parts and music, we had to start practicing in October, which meant I needed to start preparing in September!
Serving in either of these roles, I could no longer be loyal to the traditional ideal of keeping all the holidays separate. Something had to give. Either I held hard and fast to the rules–for instance, no Christmas music before Thanksgiving–and the programs, or now my writing work, suffered for my rigidity. Or, I could relax about it and realize the world wouldn’t come to an end if I listened to “Joy to the World,” “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” or “Go Tell It On The Mountain” before the calendar gave me permission.
Letting go of those rules was exhilarating! I always harbored a little rebellion anyway, thinking about what a travesty it was to have all these wonderful, celebratory Christmas songs in my repertoire, and then only be able to listen for a month! Singing those lovely tunes makes me happy, so why not?
I also realized something important along the way. As a Christian, I want to celebrate several holidays–Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving, for example–all day, every day, anyway. Here are some scriptural examples that point me in that direction:
Christmas rejoicing mixed with Easter:
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Zechariah 9:9
Easter, every day:
“And [Jesus] said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.’” Luke 9:23-26
The joy of Christmas intertwined with Thanksgiving:
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18
I know not everyone will agree with me that singing Christmas songs before Thanksgiving is OK. In this literal example, I’m not saying one way is superior over the other, nor am I saying that we should quit setting aside days of remembrance and celebration. I believe there’s value in intentionality. But, I do hope that professing Christians can agree that the Bible doesn’t separate the holidays. Instead, it tells us to be thankful always, not because of ever-changing circumstances of this life, but because of our God’s never-changing love that was put on display at Christmas and Easter.
We may not be able to always rejoice in our physical circumstances. There are things that happen that can never be called “good.” But the Way, the Truth and the Life falls into a category all His own. Jesus’ act of love and sacrifice is what we’re called to rejoice in, greatly. It’s faith in Him that determines that it is worth denying ourselves and taking up our crosses, not just once in a lifetime or one time a year, but daily. The Lord is at hand, thus how we rejoice always.
So as the holiday season blurs together, as it is apt to do, we can either resist, or ponder and embrace the merge, adding Easter right into the mix.
Malinda Just has been writing Lipstick & Pearls for the Free Press since 2008. To read more of her writing, visit her blog, www.malindajust.com.