First published in The Sunday Page, December 23, 2018

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas

by Allison Pate, Faith  Formation & Service Director

When Christianity became the religion of the Roman Empire, the twelve days between December 25 and January 6 were known as the “Twelve Holy Days.” This time was also known as the “Twelve Holy Nights” (a certain playwright even titled one of his plays, Twelfth Night) or “Christmastide.” Today we call it the season of Christmas. But wait?! Everyone else has been celebrating Christmas since Thanksgiving. All the decorations in the stores and malls will disappear on December 26. But as Christians, Christmas continues until Epiphany on January 6.

How can we keep Christmas during the 12 days? There’s a lot of wisdom and insight built in to the church calendar’s journey from Christmas to the Epiphany. And yet there’s every reason for holiday fatigue to have us bah humbugging by the 28th. Committing to a short-term practice—even a silly one—can draw us more deeply into the beautiful mystery of the incarnation.

Some simple ideas to keep Christmas:

Light a candle each day – add to your Advent wreath or use the same candle each day remembering the Light that has come into our world

Give to others – not just presents, but time, friendship, and support – St. Stephen’s day on December 26, also known as Boxing Day, is a perfect time to remember those who have less

Get crafty – break out the crayons and color daily or use colored paper and make a link in a chain for each day – a tangible way to keep Christmas

Get outside – take a walk, head to the mountains to find some snow – breathe in the fresh air and feel renewed for the new year

Sing! – or at least listen to Christmas music each day; you can even attend the Christmas concert here at Good Shepherd on December 28

Keep up your Christmas decorations – let your tree and Christmas lights keep you in the festive spirit

The good news is Christmas does not end on Christmas Day. It is only the beginning. God’s story and work continues. Our call to be the hands and feet of Christ continues. The outpouring of grace and mercy continues. That is worth celebrating over 12 days and all year long.

Loving God, we give you thanks for sending Light to our darkness. Grant that we may sing your praises in our hearts and lives this season and all year long. Help us to remember your gift to us this season, the gift of the baby Jesus. Amen.

12 Days of Christmas Artwork by Kyle Oliver via prayr.cc/12days (CC BY 2.0).