Wait just a minute

My husband and I find it interesting — not to mention somewhat disappointing and depressing — to see so many Christmas grinches in our neighborhood. You know the folks I’m referring to — the people who take their Christmas lights and decorations down the day after Christmas and toss the tree to the curb before you’ve even had the chance to open all of your cards and gifts.

The same thing seems to happen when you turn on the television or pick up the newspaper; everyone is on to the next celebration, holiday or event. Advertisements for Valentine’s Day gifts and winter getaways are everywhere, and sooner than later — easily by mid-February — the bunnies, jelly beans and Easter cards start popping up all over the place. This isn’t a new trend. I saw the same thing in my work as a reporter in television and radio news. I lost count of how many day-after-Christmas stories I filed telling the audience how to properly dispose of the real tree or store the artificial one.

Now I know the New Year is upon us and you might already be thinking ahead to other things, such as planning for this year’s big Super Bowl party, but technically it is still the Christmas season.

And sometimes this rush to race past the holidays and holy days makes me a little crazy. There are moments when I feel like standing on the street corner or in the middle of the mall or town square and shouting “enough already!”

Too many of us who are buying into the cultural craziness are Christians, but you certainly wouldn’t know it from out-ward or outside appearances. But there is a way to make a statement of faith without being declared a public nuisance or getting arrested for disturbing the peace.

How about just saying “no,” or, better yet, how about proclaiming a big “bah, humbug” to ending Christmas before the season is actually over?

As a Christian who worships in the Catholic Church, you can start by doing your best to embrace the Church’s liturgical calendar and to keep Christmas and the celebration of the Incarnation alive.

Keep the Nativity up in the frontyard. Don’t take those Christmas lights down just yet. Keep the tree — with its decorations front and center — in the big picture window. It’s still Christmas after all.

Think about the message you’re sending to your neighbors. OK, some might think you’re stretching things a bit. But others might actually stop in front of your home and give some thought to the real Christmas message, a message they barely thought about in the first place because they were too busy putting away the Christmas ornaments.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could be the reason even just one person takes the actual Christmas season more seriously?

Christmas starts with Christmas Eve, or the Christmas vigil, and runs through the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which is today. That’s a good two weeks past the actual holiday. Two weeks to ponder, pray and give thanks for God’s gift of salvation.

If you feel somewhat cheated by the hustle and the bustle, it’s not too late. Take your cue from the three kings and appreciate the season. (OK, so maybe the reason it took the Magi so long to find the Christ Child did have something to do with their particular mode of transportation, but I think you get the point.)

There is a lot to be said for taking one’s time in relishing the journey. You’re able to appreciate the destination so much more.

Teresa Tomeo is the host of Catholic Connection, produced by Ave Maria Radio and heard daily on EWTN Global Catholic Radio and Sirius Channel 160.