The afternoon of Christmas Day is the worst, especially as a kid. All the presents are unwrapped. Piles of wrapping paper have filled the living room. You’ve gotten in a few hours of playing with all your new gadgets, and then reality sets in…it’s over Christmas is over. All of that anticipation is over. Time to clean up the mess.
This is where the traditional church calendar comes in handy. The old traditions of Christmas for Christians put the celebration of Christmas as beginning on the evening of Christmas Eve, leading into the 12 Days of Christmas, all toward Epiphany. Prior to this is Advent, a season of waiting and expectation, beginning four Sundays prior to Christmas Eve.
While following the entire liturgical church calendar has been abandoned by most evangelical churches, Christmas is one cultural season where the calendar helps us from getting lost in the chaos.
The most obvious difference this produces is a change of mindset. In following the church calendar, we see that Christmas Day is not the end of a season, but the beginning of a celebration. It is also not a celebrate that involves opening presents for one morning, it’s an ongoing feast for 12 days.
What needs to happen is a recalibration of what Christmas is. This is taking place through movements like Advent Conspiracy. Gifts can still be a focal point of the season without leading to the evitable letdown. To instill this Christmas focus extending into January I’d recommend following an Advent/Christmas devotion that doesn’t end on December 25th (take a look at the quality work Biola is doing with this), and consider planning some events for family/friends past Christmas.
The season of Christmas (and the celebration that comes with it) need not end once the wrapping paper fills the living room.
The afterparty is about to begin.
(Photo: National Geographic Creative)