By Larry Thornberry
I’ll risk cliché by saying it seems like we just did this a few months ago. Cliché perhaps, but true nonetheless. Hours and days last as long as ever, but the years whiz by.This isn’t a complaint. Christmas is joyous and I like it, even with its aggravations. There are fewer of those now as the family is smaller. Attendance at Christmas dinner at chez Thornberry, once a boisterous affair with young and old human celebrants in double figures and numerous dogs probing all perimeters for handouts, has dwindled, in the words of the song, to a precious few.
But these few are indeed precious. And recognizing this is a good part of what Christmas is for, even though carols, presents, decorations, and parties remain in the forefront of what has been largely a secular celebration. This was the case even before our cultural transmission belts and their keepers went post-everything.
For those who haven’t converted to celebrating the Winter Holiday (what thin gruel that is), Christmas is for reflection on salvation and redemption, on the meaning of life beyond the wrapping paper, Christmas cards, and that silly-looking red coat on Mom’s Maltese (which the dog has the good sense to dislike). There’s no time like Christmas and New Year’s for summing up and renewing. The renewals don’t always last, but this is when we give them a shot.
Speaking of shots, it’s a cheap one to carry on about gift-giving and the “over-commercialization” of Christmas. Just what is the seemly level of commercialization of a sacred day when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus? Those who manufacture and retail the gifts we find under the tree must make a living too, though the advertising barrage from before Thanksgiving through the year-end sales illustrates the maxim: Nothing succeeds like excess.
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- Fr. Christopher George Phillips
- Fr. Phillips is the founding pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church, the first Anglican Use parish, established on August 15, 1983. Not that there is any confusion, but he is on the left, shown in his younger, less gray-headed days.