Wither Winter Christmas?

          "Happy Holidays," the lady blithely said as she rang up my groceries. Not "Holy Days," but "holidays." What "holidays"? It's "Season's Greetings" and "Winter break" and vacation and (maybe) time for people to visit families. In the schools it's the holy month of Ramadan, the season of Kwanzaa, the Winter Solstice, and Hanukkah, each of which are openly taught in all their details, complete with singing songs, making arts and crafts to commemorate them, and deeper explorations into the various cultural sources for these. There is everything being commemorated and celebrated and practiced and advocated, except of course for that one "holiday" (which remains nameless), and which is quite pointedly being boycotted, and with obvious societal and governmental approval.

          Perhaps one might find more devotion at the shopping malls where at least a commercial sense might still allow for some popular Christmas hymns (albeit, only their instrumental versions, so people don't have to be "offended" by the words) to be occasionally woven in amongst the Rudolph songs, the Santa Claus songs, the wintery snowy songs, the good cheer songs, and then of course there are those "goofy" songs - you know the ones I mean. Though "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth" has thankfully receded into the memory hole, "Grandma got run over by a reindeer" is still alive and well.

          Even holiday shopping seems to be receding as people simply don't have the time, the energy, the money, or even the ability to tolerate the commercial bombast that has been building up gradually for much of the year ("It's only the Fourth of July - why are they already putting up Christmas decorations?"). I will simply be giving checks to my niblings this year. Perhaps they will just get rid of Christmas altogether.

          And would that be so very bad? Despite all the above I don't see it happening, but suppose for a moment that it did. Then we real Catholics would at last again have Christ's Mass to ourselves, for at least what the world has no interest in, it won't be interested in distorting either. But then again, how much do any of us do for the Feast of Annunciation, or Immaculate Conception, or Peter and Paul, or Ascension Thursday? If we can even make it to Mass for that day (especially those of us who must travel far) that's probably about it. Maybe there is something positive to be said for all the commerical hoo ha surrounding Christmas, for it can serve to remind us of the important time that is near. But then again what more important thing can we do than the Mass, the "most beautiful thing this side of Heaven"?

          But in the early days, the Nativity only began the buildup to that climax of Epiphany, which latter was the big Holy Day to Christians (other than Easter). So in a way, maybe we do have this. While the whole world is going into its yearly "Post-Christmas letdown" and dismantling the trees, the other decorations, throwing away the wrappings for the presents, and getting back to life as usual (or "ordinary time"), we Catholics are just getting started. By Epiphany, we pretty much have the Holy Day to ourselves. And not to mention what a far superior time for shopping it is as well, due to all the post-Christmas sales!

          And Epiphany is definitely something to work and pray for. That was the time that the world (in the form of the Three Kings), finally recognized for the first time the King of Kings, and God (already present) was at last revealed to mankind. We traditional Catholics already know among ourselves that we alone are that living Mystical Body of that selfsame King of Kings.

          And as it is every year with Christmas and Epiphany, so too we can rightly expect that both the deceptions and the seductions will fall away, as do the distortions and commercialisms of Christmas, only to leave everything to be cleared for the King of Kings to reveal Himself, and ourselves as His holy Church, the real Epiphany.

          I have been blessed in that I always live in that Epiphany, and with all my heart most earnestly pray that you may do so as well, God bless!


      December 25, 2007
      vol 18, no. 359