Every summer, when I was a little girl, my parents would drive us up to Estes Park, Colorado to visit my mother’s parents. While we were there, we would take a trip downtown to a very special store, The Christmas Shoppe. This store specialized in Christmas supplies and decorations, and it never failed to put a little bit of awe and wonder in me, as my eyes lit up with the sparkly lights and decorations and my senses were overwhelmed with the feeling of Christmas in this place. It even smelled like Christmas in this store.
I loved going to this store. It always seemed like a special moment out of time, when I could look at Christmas decorations and dream about the Christmas that was to come in just a few short months. It was a magical feeling knowing that there was at least one place in the world where the Christmas spirit lived on year-round.
Over twenty years have passed since our summerly trips to Estes Park and The Christmas Shoppe, and I sometimes find myself as an adult wondering where that feeling of magic has gone. Now, I turn on the radio in July, and can hear Christmas music playing twenty-four hours a day. I walk into craft stores in September, and find Christmas displays up before the beginning of the school year. I drop in to buy Halloween candy on Halloween day, and find the aisles cleared of those supplies, and filled with Christmas gift sets instead.
It no longer seems magical to have access to Christmas decorations and supplies year-round. It just feels pushed and pressured, a commercialized venture encouraging me to buy more and more and focus more and more on the trappings of the Christmas season, instead of the magic and the wonder of it all.
And yet, even in the midst of all of that, there is a sense of magic and wonder that remains as we exit the Thanksgiving season and enter into Advent. It’s a sense of magic and wonder that comes with the special and awe-filled traditions of Advent that help us to truly prepare for the Christmas season, not just decorate our homes for it.
The feelings of the magic and wonder of Christmas remain as we light a candle for each Sunday of Advent, a slowly growing level of light that heralds the Light of the World coming to illuminate our way. The feelings of the magic and wonder of Christmas remain as we slowly recount the Christmas story through scripture, building up and leading to the Advent of the Birth of Christ. The feelings remain, and grow, as we walk through the season of Advent, remembering why it is that we trim our trees and decorate our homes in celebration of this time.
Sisters and Brothers, as we face the growing push towards the selling of Christmas to us year-round, let us hold on to those feelings of the magic and wonder of Christmas, letting the joy of the season grow in our hearts as we celebrate the traditions that help prepare our hearts and our lives for the true “reason for the season.”
**Thoughts published here are mine and mine alone, and may or may not represent the thoughts or opinions of Southern Heights Presbyterian Church, Homestead Presbytery, Synod of Lakes and Prairies, or the Presbyterian Church (USA)**
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