Over the weekend I was talking with a friend who told me that he much preferred Thanksgiving over Christmas because Thanksgiving focused on family and time together as opposed to the secular and consumer-oriented approach to Christmas. I can see his point.
As we begin the season of Advent, we are encouraged, once again, to “watch and wait”. Our first reaction might be, “Who has time to watch and wait?” Isn’t that the issue? Over the past few decades Christmas has been held hostage by big business creating a sense of gift entitlement that has nothing to do with the symbolic gifts presented by the Magi. Add to that approaching semester exams and the frantic activity that has come to define the Christmas season and we may find ourselves struggling to keep up rather than reflecting on the real significance of Christmas.
In an introduction to the December issue of Give Us This Day: Daily Devotions for Catholics, editor Father James Martin, SJ wrote that each year he likes Christmas less and less but loves the Nativity more and more. That’s an interesting approach. We may not be able to control the secular aspects of Christmas, but we can continue to refocus our lives and the lives of our families more and more on the Nativity, for it is there that we will find the true meaning of Christmas, and it is there that the Advent encouragement of “watch and wait” will make more sense.
-Br. Hank Hammer, fms