Christmas for me starts in the summer. I'm composing and arranging new anthems. Reflecting on new devotional material. Thinking of ways to make the old old story seem new.
When I was a child Christmas held out a promise of a break from the routine. School stopped. I slept in a different room to accommodate visiting relatives. Special foods (some good, some not so much) made an appearance. Bed time rules were relaxed. We delighted in 'the new'. New presents. New movies on TV. We reconnected with the old traditions while forging new ones.
Somewhere along the way that changed.
I embrace wholeheartedly the Christmas story, but so many years of Christmas Sermons and Pageants have done some damage. For the Christian the gift of Jesus is the pinnacle of the season, however I've heard many messages about the 'True Meaning of Christmas' that seem to carry a thin veneer of guilt rather than point me to the manger. The subtle message that if you are enjoying anything else rather than Jesus then you are celebrating Christmas wrong.
Anyway, it's not even Thanksgiving yet, why am I blogging about Christmas?
Every year in November I attend a Board Game Convention in Dallas. It is one of the highlights of my year. I book the Convention and start making plans in March. Somebody asked me last week why I get so excited about attending.
For me BGG Con feels like Christmas felt when I was a child.
The wonder of seeing old friends. Staying up late. Eating differently. Discovering new games. Taking delight in play. Laughing way too much.
I feel alive in a wonderful way at BGG Con. Play and Celebration lift me out of the Ordinary and I feel connected to the Numinous. I'm being where I'm meant to be doing what I am wired to do.
If you are not a board gamer then that may sound ridiculous, but I guarantee there is something in your life that when you do it you come alive.
Maybe you paint.
Maybe you run marathons.
Maybe you create spreadsheets.
Maybe you perform in a folk dance group.
Maybe you knit clothes for dogs.
Whatever it is, when you find it, pursue it.
When Christians celebrate Christmas they celebrate the Holy becoming incarnate in the Ordinary, God putting on skin and moving into the neighborhood.
When you find your own piece of the Ordinary that seems to lift you up, that nurtures your spirit, then I think you are celebrating Christmas the right way. Forget about religious guilt or joyless piety, reconnect with Wonder and Delight....
....and that is why, for me, Christmas falls in November every year.