Unwrapping the Consequences of Secular Christmas Fatigue and How Catholics Deal With It
I was in a grocery store this week and after checking out, I reflexively wished the cashier and the bagger a “Merry Christmas!” The cashier’s face went blank with stun for a moment. The bagger looked at another lane. The cashier got a smile eventually. I said, “it’s still Christmas in my book, as it only just began a few days ago!” She said, “you’re right! Merry Christmas!”
I don’t really know if that moment would have any lasting meaning for them other than some guy wished them a Merry Christmas when the store shelves were already filling with Valentine’s Day candy. Some crazy coot in the checkout lane getting mixed up on what day it is probably happens frequently enough that it’s already filed away in the “people are crazy” folder of a cashier’s memory. For me, though, I had to say it. It is Christmas, after all!
I noticed something strange this year, and I can’t really pin down a cause: people were not excited to decorate for Christmas. In my neighborhood even, usually there are decorations on almost every house but for a scant few. This year, it was reversed. Halloween, however, was different — I’ve never seen so many houses with lights strung out as if for Christmas. Christmas, though… shockingly few had decorations. I remember thinking that Halloween this past year was strangely over done. I did not think it would replace Christmas, though.
I was even surprised as Catholic friends on social media had made comments that they were not “feeling it” to decorate this year. For myself, sensing that the tried and true was becoming tired and worn, I got an entirely new set of decorations, tree, candles for outside, front door treatment, and a nice “JOY” with a nativity silhouette in the “O” and a star that lights up. It brought cheer to me to see it on.
It was even earlier than Christmas that stores had already emptied out Christmas supplies and switched to fitness and valentines. Being in Costco a week and a half before Christmas revealed that they had nothing but some poinsettias. A month prior and there was an entire section of the store with Santas, reindeer, and shiny bows and gifts. That was before Thanksgiving, of course. If you needed any thanksgiving decorations, well, tough luck. It was all Christmas. But by the time Christmas came, these places had all already moved on!
My local Lowe’s had some trees and things out. Since early August. It looked more festive and Christmasy back in August than it did during Advent.
And the noise in those stores. There’s a long conspiracy that demons inspire rock bands and the music industry in order to enchant people to the dark side. I’m convinced that, by hearing the music that had been playing in Walmart, that those demons just record their own records now. The shrieking and strange mantra-like “Christmas” music had begun in early November. I have to hand it to Walmart and Tractor Supply, though — visiting those stores in the days before Christmas yielded wrapping paper and things needed, so at least they had not already cleared out what was needed. Unlike the other stores I had been in the weekend before Christmas — already emptied of any cheer, and already back to ordinary things.
I think the first “Christmas Party” I saw mentioned this year was in November itself. Nevermind that it wasn’t even advent at that point. Heaven forbid anyone want to prepare for the actual Christmas. Worse, where are the Christmas Parties now that it is actually Christmas?
Oh, that’s right, people are already planning on New Year’s Resolutions and not eating, and going on ascetic diets in order to show that they can be austere and control themselves. At least for a few days, right? Back in advent, when it is time to do that, nobody cared about that. Now that Christmas feasts are supposed to be here, it’s time to batten down the hatches and tighten up the diet. No butter cookies for you! You need to keep that resolution! Nevermind that Christmas is still going on eight more days even! You are allowed to have a New Year’s party, but the day after is all resolution!
Save the resolutions for lent. It’s time to party. That’s not an easy thing to do this very strange year, though. It must have been something in the air, but people, even Catholics, were wore out on Christmas way too early this year. For me, I just now found out what was in my stocking left by Santa. I still have ham and kielbasa as well as nut rolls and babka. Christmastide has only just begun.
Oh, and my lights and tree are still up and turned on daily. Take that, Halloween people!
It makes me think that we are seeing the rift enlarge – when the angels came to the shepherds, they imparted “Peace” not to all, but to men of good will. As a child, I used to think that meant the charity Goodwill. I spent too much time pondering that elusive mystery as a child. That, and putting coins in the pants pockets of dirty laundry in order to see if anyone could tell that money laundering was occurring. Only much later in life would I realize that it meant those people who sought goodness and truth would find the birth of Jesus. The rest of the world had moved on when that star appeared in Bethlehem. The angels came to those crazy coots in the field, the shepherds. And only the ones of good will at that.
You and I have been left like that this year — crazy coots left out in a field by ourselves. But here, may the angels bring good news to you, and remind you that our savior was born and He will redeem us from the slavery of the world, the slavery of sin. For us, Christmas just began, here with the angels.
Merry Christmas, Dear Reader. Christ is born!
This article, Unwrapping the Consequences of Secular Christmas Fatigue and How Catholics Deal With It is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
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