Monday, December 29, 2014

How to Celebrate Christmas for 12 days

You may have heard the news: Christmas isn't over yet.  Yes, it is true.  Christmas lasts twelve days... until January 6th.  (Click here for more information on that.)  After the long and sober season of Advent, the celebration of Christmas takes over, and one day is simply not enough for all the partying we must do.  Just as we fasted and mourned our sins during Advent, so during the season of Christmas, we feast and celebrate our redemption from our sins.  When Jesus came, everything changed for the better, and our celebration during this season should reflect the great joy the coming of Christ brought and, when He returns, will bring.

So, how should we go about celebrating from Christmas Day until Epiphany?  While I know everyone has their own family traditions surrounding Christmas, here's a few tips on how to extend Christmas from one day into the 12 days it is: 

  • Don't Throw that Tree Away yet!  When I was growing up, the tree went down as soon as we had time and energy to get the ornaments off.  (Who am I kidding:  It was Mom who did all the work here!)  Let me recommend that you keep your tree up and lit from Christmas Eve all the way to Epiphany (Jan 6).
  • Let the Music Play!  Don't stop the Christmas music after Christmas Day, but keep in playing in your house all week.... especially the more Christ-exalting Christmas songs (e.g. Joy to the World, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, etc.)
  • Do Some Special Each Day of Christmas:  In our house, we open a present every day of Christmas.  The plan (when it happens) is to have morning prayer together and then open a present and sing a Christmas carol together.  (This year, we haven' sung much since our voices are all phlegmy from colds).  If you don't do a gift a day, you could each a special dessert after dinner each night, or have a family activity each morning or evening.  Doesn't matter what it is, but mark the occasion with something your family will enjoy and that is reasonably do-able for you this time of year.
  • Embrace the Christmas Triduum:  There are three lesser known holidays (triddum means something like "three days") following Christmas Day that help put the celebration of Christmas in its proper perspective:  St. Stephen's DaySt. John's Day  and Holy Innocents   I've found that keeping these holidays during Christmas lifts my perspective up from the hustle and bustle of Christmas.  St. Stephen's Day reminds me of the cost of following Jesus.  St. John's Day reminds me to seek the glory of Christ and to trust Jesus plan for my life.  Holy Innocents reminds me, as I am in plenty, that many innocent children, born and in the womb, are abused and helpless, enduring murder and evil beyond my comprehension.  You can find the prayers and Bible readings associated with these days here and a description here.
  • Look for Opportunities to Serve the Poor:  There are plenty of places you can volunteer in our area, but one thing I've done is kept food, some clothes in my car and looked for opportunities to give them.  If no opportunity occurs after a few days, I drop the clothes off at a shelter or food pantry.  I know at Good Shepherd  we have been gathering coats for the Sudanese woman in High Point we are connected with.  

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