(After) Advent: Celebrating Well

candle on the christmas tree

Celebrate well – and safely! – this Christmas.

There are sad sights to be seen driving down my alley. They are the remains of Christmas trees, laying by the curb. Some have tinsel still caught in their branches. These trees were purchased and brought home with much excitement, and now they sit abandoned waiting for the city to come recycle them into compost.

What is really sad is that Christmas is not over. Yes, Christmas Day has come and gone, but Christmas lasts twelve days. The ancient Church knew that Christmas was too important to only celebrate for one day, and so they kept the 12 days of Christmas.

Photo credit: Christoph via Flickr

Celebrating All 12 Days of Christmas

Let me encourage you to continue celebrating Christmas through the twelve days.

First, it is counter-cultural. The broader culture stops celebrating right after Christmas. This gives us a golden opportunity to demonstrate what really is the “true meaning of Christmas” – the coming of Messiah Jesus! Our continued celebration will serve as a witness to the world that our savior has indeed come.

Second, it is not that we deserve it, but indeed, if we observe Advent well, when Christmas arrives, we should “really want” to celebrate Christmas! Three to four weeks preparing should propel us into a prolonged period of joyfulness.

Finally, celebrating the twelve days is good for us. We don’t know how to celebrate well. Sure, we can put on a happy face, gin up excitement for opening presents, feel the emotions that come with singing sentimental Christmas carols, and enjoy the treats that only get baked once a year at Christmas.

The Deeper Joy

But there remains for us a deeper joy – a joy that takes time to experience. It is a joy that can get masked by the manufactured nature of most of our parties. These twelve days are a chance to go deeper in our experience of joy, and it is precisely because of what we are celebrating:

Jesus is Emanuel, God with us!

As this Christmas-tide continues, have special meals with friends and family, go for special walks, or other activities, give small gifts or give to a special charity. remember those who walk in darkness (see my earlier post). And spend some quiet time each day pondering in your heart that Jesus has come, thanking and praising God for this great gift. Jesus is with us! The most amazing thing – God wants to be with us. Here is the source of true joy: God’s presence!

Give yourself the time and space to celebrate Christmas really well this year, celebrating the coming of the Messiah, Jesus.

Are you celebrating all 12 Days of Christmas this year? What are your favorite Christmas traditions?

12/5/2012 8:15 AM Editor note: For ESN’s developing Advent archive click here.

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Charlie Clauss

Charlie Clauss works with Intervarsity's Graduate Student and Faculty Ministry in Minnesota and the Dakotas.

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