Tis the season...
I remember watching that crazy show, "Third Rock from the Sun" a few years ago and laughing at the Thanksgiving episode. The four members of that alien family discovered early in the week of Thanksgiving that in order to observe this mysterious holiday properly, they needed to find, purchase, cook, and consume a certain phenomenon known as "balls of butter." So each of them ate their own individual turkey and then were clueless as to why they all felt so sleepy. Their futile battle against the overwhelming effects of tryptophan was hilarious to watch. After waking from their long afternoon naps, they perched themselves outside on the roof overlooking their front yard and recounted the events of the day. Relieved that they had survived that gluttonous ordeal, they gave thanks that they would have plenty of time to prepare for future holidays because surely no other major holiday could follow so closely after Thanksgiving. If only...
Indeed, the preparations for another major holiday have begun. The lights are up on storefronts. Wreaths adorn street lights here in Charlotte. Trees are being sold in parking lots that only a few weeks ago were awash in pumpkins. The holiday shopping frenzy is in full swing already. Several hundred people lined up at a local shopping mall for a 1 am entrance! What could you possibly need at the mall at 1 am on the morning after Thanksgiving? What about the silent nights, the sleeping in heavenly peace? What about joy to the world and peace on earth, good will to men?
Advent season begins officially tomorrow, and there is much to look forward to in the next 40 days. I look forward to cuddling in front of the fireplace with Steve and the children, hot cocoa, popcorn, and visions of fruitcake dancing in our heads. I look forward to the plate of cookies my neighbor's daughter brings to our back door every Christmas eve and the batches of our own cookies that will add to my already expanded holiday girth. I look forward to putting up our tree, the light of electric candles in our windows, and wearing my sparkly red turtleneck sweater to church on Christmas eve. I look forward to singing Christmas carols around the piano with the kids, reading the story of the birth of Christ on Christmas eve, and awakening on Christmas morning to the smell of the breakfast casserole in the oven, the sight of presents under the tree, and the music of my friend, Rob Mathes as he sings my favorite line of all: "I'm waiting here for love again to be born." That's what it all leads to: Love. Born anew. Joy. Silent wonder. The star of David. Wonderful Counselor. Mighty God. Prince of Peace. Peace that surpasses all understanding, explanation, and over-commercialization.
As much as I look forward to my 40th birthday on the 14th of December (Have no fear: there's still plenty of time to compose poetry or song lyrics, string pearls and crystals into one-of-a-kind necklaces, and get them in the mail for a timely arrival...), as much as I look forward to watching the children open their gifts and scream with delight, and as much as I look forward to letting my tears flow every time I hear "O Come All Ye Faithful," I know that the real reason for the season is that baby that was born in the manger over 2000 years ago, the baby that grew up, became a man, died, was buried, and rose again.
The Christmas season officially begins tomorrow.
Tis the season to await the soon coming baby.
The soon coming healer.
The soon coming Rabbi.
The soon coming King.
Joy to the world, indeed.