Well, I've already decorated my house for Christmas. I know it's early, but my husband and I are going out of town today, and we won't be home until after Thanksgiving weekend. I usually like to put everything up the day after Thanksgiving--and since I won't be here to do that, it will be nice to come home and have everything done already. We don't have our tree up yet, and the stockings are not hanging over the fireplace; but otherwise, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here. The wreaths and garlands are up; the poinsettias (nice fake ones, because--brown thumb that I am--I prefer them to real ones) are out; the Advent wreath is ready to light up; and now my favorite Christmas decoration of all--our amazing Nativity set--is standing in its usual place of honor in our family room.
My husband and I decided to splurge on this oversized Nativity set twelve years ago, so that the focal point of our Christmas decorations would always be a reminder of the true reason for the season. Its figurines are the same size as those of a Nativity that is displayed every Christmas in one of the Catholic churches in our town. (In fact, this set came from a catalog that sold Catholic statuary, priests' vestments, and other church supplies.) My husband built the beautiful wooden creche several years after we bought it, out of scrap wood left over from his building projects, and then he installed a light behind the angel. I like to sit in the dark, when there's a soft yellow glow illuminating the Holy Family, and just gaze at it.
Sometimes in this country, you could forget that the whole reason for Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Christ, Our Savior. There was that campaign to outlaw the phrase "Merry Christmas" in the workplace and replace it with a nice, generic "Happy Holidays." (I hope that nonsense is finally past us.) You'd think a Christmas tree was a Satanic symbol the way some places refuse to display one--and then if they do, they insist on calling it a "holiday tree." I remember how upset and disappointed I was when I found out that the traditional "Christmas Parade" that they put on in our town every year the Sunday after Thanksgiving had been renamed the "Holiday Parade." My boys used to love to go to that parade and try to catch the hard candies that Santa threw from his float. If I had any kids young enough to attend the event now, I'd boycott it, out of principle, because of that name change. That trend towards making Christmas a secular celebration rather than a religious one is widespread. If you're out shopping for things with which to adorn your home during this holy season of Christmas, you will find a lot more snowman decorations than you will religious ones, or cute penguins wearing Santa hats (I love penguins as much as the next guy, but they really have nothing to do with Christmas!).
I may be behind the times; perhaps, after years of having the religious nature of Christmas downplayed, Christians in this country have had enough and things have turned around. Maybe "Merry Christmas!" rings through the halls of businesses across our fair land. I hope so. But at least I know that inside our family home, our lovely Nativity showcases the true spirit of Christmas.
Well, we're getting set to get on the road again...just can't wait to get on the road again...and I really can't wait, because we're going to be spending about a week and a half with our son and his wife--and the twins!--in Upstate NY. This is going to be such a blessed Thanksgiving!