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Silent night, quiet times

I still have problems with the understanding that Christmas is over on Boxing Day. As a child for us Christmas lasted from Christmas Eve to Epiphany. In many countries these days, New Zealand included, Christmas seems to begin sometime in the middle of November, and certainly is here by the 1st of December until it finishes in exhaustion on Boxing Day. That difference may partly be cultural, but also generational. Waiting and anticipation seems to be less common today than in times past. Also, in the past social connections were a lot less compartmentalized. While formerly people would have had 12 days of Christmas to visit their neighbours, friends, colleagues and relatives in towns and villages nearby, most people today take the time after Christmas off. They still want to mark the occasion somehow with colleagues and other social circles they are part of. Maybe that’s why Christmas parties are such a thing throughout December. The shops have added to this early celebration of Christmas by generating a festive atmosphere for many weeks to stimulate sales.

I have to say that with such an extended Christmas celebration and more to come I am beginning to look forward to the return to a quieter time and more normal food. Maybe the seasons have been reversed from how they were celebrated in the past: Christmas is now during the time of Advent; and Advent is now during the time of Christmas. After Christmas Day many people take things slower,  read a few good books, think about the past and the future, and consider their own mortality and the role of God in their own and the world’s life. Those are the thoughts and actions traditionally associated with Advent. Rather than that reflection happening in anticipation of festivities, it comes after the celebrations. Maybe there’s something to this, but for me it’s very hard to get used to. Still, we could get intentional about having a slower time in the year. So, if you did not have a reflective December so far, maybe you can set apart some time during the last few days of the year for quiet and reflection.

But first of all, I want to wish you a very happy and blessed Christmas.

Blessings, Tim