New Year’s Puts a Period on Christmas

The Epiphany hasn’t even happened, and we’re pulling down the boxes to clear out the ornaments so that we can rush in the New Year. “Out with the old” could not come quick enough.

Christmas is actually the first day of the 12 Days of Christmas that extends until January 6. So, remember those warm moments over the past few weeks when people seemed to have some kind of magical warmth within them, and the sound of Silent Night did not grate on your nerves? That supposed to still be happening… Instead, the Christmas rug is getting pulled out from under us.

New Year’s Eve, with all its glitz, brings an abrupt end to the quiet contemplation, the focus on giving to others. It’s replaced with an emphasis on me — what am I going to do to make the next year better for me. The loud noise of celebration of New Year’s Eve, the horns that are blown at midnight, are simply to divert our attention away from the tendency to focus on what we don’t have, and to compel us to get more next year.

I’d like some time to reflect on what I already have… to cherish the gifts that people brought me, whether it was their time, their cookies, or something they picked out just for me. With Christmas swept away, it’s too easy to forget the magic we saw in hearts this season. And let’s be honest, there was magic. We talk about the Christmas rush, but I think the post-Christmas rush, to erase Christmas, is far more damaging to our spirits.

Suddenly, Christmas is out of style. We can’t wait to put away those ostentatious ornaments, we’re tired of red, and please, no more fudge.

I did put away my tree just a few days ago, just to get rid of the needles, and the clutter. But I left a few reminders of Christmas out. Nothing too bright and jarring, and the kids caught me playing Christmas carols on Pandora yesterday.

But, I want the joy of Christmas back. And technically, it’s still ours. The 12 Days of Christmas mark the time the Wise Men arrived to see the baby Jesus. (The journey actually took the Wise Men a few years… but, it’s all symbolic, and who’s counting?) Until January 6, it’s still Christmas.

Instead of Christmas coming to an end with its predefined cut-off, rushed and sandwiched to get ready for the New Year, what if it just slid out from under us without us even knowing that it actually left? What if it just drifted away without the definite end point of looking toward a New Year?

When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.

The poem “The Work of Christmas” is from Howard Thurman’s The Mood of Christmas and Other Celebrations.


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