It’s getting colder, and quite a few snowflakes fell in the Quad Cities on Sunday. Christmas carols are beginning to play in homes and cars, shops and offices.
We all know people who prefer to hear absolutely no Christmas music before Thanksgiving. Some people like to take in the familiar tunes of the holiday right after Halloween. And, of course, a few Christmas champions will tune in to Joy to the World or Hark, the Herald Angels Sing any day of the year.
For many, including me, these preferences are very personal.
I begin listening to Christmas music faithfully on Nov. 1. I decorate my home in red, green, silver, and gold, too. These are practices I started in college. December was always a stressful time then, with big papers due and finals hanging over my head. When I came home from school a week or so before Christmas, I felt like I had missed so much.
I decided to get into the holiday spirit in November so that I could take time to appreciate and celebrate. When the days become darker, and weather becomes colder, it also helps get me out of the funk that I often find myself in this time of year.
Christmas, for practicing Christians, is a time when we stop and proclaim Emmanuel – God With Us. It’s a time to consider what the incarnation means: In a world that wakes up to hear of more horrific gun violence, or earthquakes and hurricanes and fires destroying homes and livelihoods, we have a God who knows and understands that pain fully, and is fully present with those who are suffering. God is Emmanuel.
We should honor what works for each person as we proclaim and consider this gift. Each of us should be free to experience Silent Night or Away in the Manger in ways that give the most meaning – no matter the timing.
–Kelsey Fitting-Snyder, pastor-in-residence