The turkey has been carved and every morsel of meat stripped from its carcass. We have dined on leftover dressing, turkey sandwiches, and I guess we are destined for turkey soup. The Black Friday lines are gone leaving behind happy shoppers who braved the wee hour crowds and got the good deals. Bleary-eyed workers at Walmart, Target and Best Buy are trying to catch up on their sleep. Across America, shoppers turned to the blue glow of computer screens searching for the best deals on Cyber-Monday.
This weekend, a blast of fall blew copper colored leaves across the yard. Families scrambled outside their houses with giggling children. Mothers gave advice and helped as fathers struggled to untangle strings of lights to adorn the roof and, in some cases, stretch across the yard. Rooftops began to glow with red, green, yellow and blue lights. This week we will set up the Christmas tree in our window. I will have to tinker with the lights to get them all lit, but it is a start. In a matter of hours, the season shifted from Thanksgiving to Christmas.
In some ways, Christmas is a unique American cultural holiday. Over the last two centuries our forefathers developed traditions that define the season: the Christmas tree, Christmas cards, eggnog, fruitcake and, again, turkey and dressing. We have added electric lights that twinkle in the night; fairy tales, Santa and Rudolph; A Christmas Story with Ralphie’s Red Ryder BB gun and his dad’s leg lamp; Miracle on Thirty-fourth Street and It’s A Wonderful Life. We adopted A Christmas Carol from England and The Nutcracker from Russia.
Next Sunday many churches will light their first candle for Advent. The Advent, of course, refers to birth of Jesus Christ. He came in much different circumstances, with none of the traditions we have added. And He came for all nations. As Zechariah predicted, “Many nations will join themselves to the Lord in that day and will become My people. Then I will dwell in your midst, and you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent Me to you” (Zech. 2:11).
Today, there are more Christians in South America, Africa and Asia than there are in the United States and Europe. Many of the traditions we enjoy at this season are unknown to them. But we share one thing in common, the “Advent” of God’s only begotten Son who has saved us from our sins.
I think I enjoy the American Christmas traditions as much as anyone. But, as the seasons turn, I hope I will not be distracted from concentrating on the single most important event in human history, God’s unspeakable gift in Jesus of Nazareth.