There is something incongruous about the Christmas season and its various themes when you are living in 80 degree weather. Nothing really fits, so you have to do a mental transition that will help you to accept the proximity of snow and ice and hot temperatures. We trick our minds so that Santa and his sleigh and the north pole, etc., work. Decorations help. The tree with icicles, frosted ornaments, snow scenes, and prints by Currier & Ives all help to cement the illusion. Gradually the mind begins to accept these images, and the Spirit of the Christmas season starts to take over. Music adds another dimension, talking of snow and winter weather, sleigh rides, snowmen, and frosted window panes.
All of this used to start after Thanksgiving, which was the official start of the Christmas season. It worked for many decades. The transition was from Halloween (celebrating fall and a successful harvest), to Thanksgiving (expressing our gratitude for the plenty stored away for the winter), to Christmas (the birth of Christ, and the advent of Santa and gift giving). All of this used to take place gradually, season to season, with no rush. Until the growth of the department store and consequently, the birth of advertising. In the beginning, the theme of each season and its reasons for buying within each theme were presented separately, usually with a slight break between each. Then, gradually, the seasons started growing together with various sales and enticements to keep up the rhythm of buying and gift giving. Then the seasons started to overlap, and now we have Halloween transitioning right into Christmas with decorations, music, etc. Thanksgiving has become a mere blip on the screen of sales, and is almost taken over by shopping mania. First the day after, and now the day “of” with the whole weekend becoming its own shopping holiday. Why is this? One reason is that the survival of the retail brick & mortar store is at stake. Online shopping is taking over with its ease of purchase, and “no hassle” shopping. It is now a battle of numbers. Reality shopping versus digital. Why not let UPS and FedEx do the moving through traffic and deliveries?
The result is beginning to become obvious. The meaning of our very special holiday season is weakening, waning, if not disappearing. Spirituality is in real danger of morphing into a cartoon-like existence. Superficiality and glitz are taking over with instant gratification making it seem like we are actually living in a reality-produced commercial. There is a smooth, effortless, relentless sliding from Halloween to the New Year. And, “Is everybody happy?” Sure, if you don’t mind all that the spiritual reformers have taken away from us: The manger, angels, Nativity scenes, Wise Men, prayers of thanks, or any kind of prayer, etc. And the question becomes: Is it possible to retrieve the soul of our holiday season? Are we willing or even able to do so?
Yes, we can! By remembering how special and deep are the roots of our symbols which are based on faith, hope and love. And by realizing that something as small as a nucleus or a single cell can grow to astronomical proportions and take over the world. It happened once before in Bethlehem, and it can happen again. Prayer, whether sung or spoken, unites and builds and binds cohesively. We have only to remember to use it – regularly and with purpose. Music has the ability to magnify thoughts and ideas. It also is the cement that can bind these thoughts and ideas. Use it - regularly and wisely and with purpose!