Merchants began declaring it such before October even set, commercialization blaring the "give me, give me" chatter so adept at drowning out Thanksgiving ... again.
Christmas has always been a conflicted time for me, strangely. Roots of that tension undoubtedly come from a mother whose favorite holiday is Christmas, and a father whose spiritual upbringing never quite felt at home with a celebration inevitably focused far more on the temporal flesh than the unmerited gift of a Divine Babe.
Though mercy and grace beautifully draped its mantle over the Christmas season in my home, I've walked this convoluted soil all my life, never really finding a peaceful resolution in my heart.
Don't celebrate Christmas.
Fully acquainted with the reasoning behind both positions, I admit it's not a season I look forward to.
However, year after year, I've opted for celebrating ... often at the price of my conscience, which seems to become an injured participant regardless of which option I choose.
This year my Christmas tree is especially beautiful. It's six foot height bears seven strands of tiny lights meticulously woven in and out and around, bottom to top, branch tip to branch tip.
After bringing in my tree the day after Thanksgiving, looking at it standing there, branches lifted upward, I couldn't see anything to celebrate, other than the sameness of doing so this time of year. All I could see was death.
Maybe its because for the past 2-1/2 years my pastor has faithfully spent each Sunday teaching from the gospel of Luke, and last Sunday he finished his fourth week on the crucifixion.
Tree. Crucifixion. Death.
Yet, here I stood, before a decorated dead tree.
Then, the unexpected.
From death came life, with the flip of a switch. Or so it felt.
The lights came on.
This year my Christmas tree stands far more adorned than ever before. And in an instant, what seemed an embellishment of death suddenly took on the celebration of life. The tree exuded life's miracle, casting darkness to the furthest corners of the room where even there darkness wasn't allowed to linger.
Ornaments, which in themselves seemed so out of character with the tree on which they hung, suddenly reflected a light outside themselves ... seeming to become one with it.
The light shone through the room, out the door, down the corridors of time until it focused on a darkened hillside, and a twisted tree bearing its own ornament.
An ornament hung by man's hand ... a horrific message of death.
An ornament lovingly, painfully, held in place by a Father's hand ... an eternal gift of Divine light ... and life.
DeAnna, your God given talent to make words come alive has blessed me so much with this realization of the reason for the season. I, also, have mixed feeling at this time of the year. I always reflect on where I am in my spiritual walk and what God has for me in the days ahead. This year I will look at my tree in a different light as I reflect on your words of wisdom and truth. May God bless you and your family and have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS. You are greatly loved.