At long, dreaded last, the seasons are starting to change here in Philadelphia. Many people love this city because it's a city of four seasons, but I hate it. Not that it's here just yet, but the snow (and the ice, traffic difficulties, skin-drying cold, etc. it brings) is something no human being should have to live with. I can only imagine what it must be like in the North Country and places like that... I would honestly go insane. Weather-wise, it's been the best year here I could remember -- 65 degrees and goregous on New Years' Day (which, for some mysterious reason -- God's curse on the Mummers' Parade? -- is usually the coldest day of the year) set the tone just right.
Two of our radio stations have already begun to play Christmas music without interruption, and they'll continue doing so straight through to 25 December. It's nauseating, and I'm more grateful than ever that I picked up a satellite radio when I did. I'm not dreaming of a White Christmas because it's November 12, I haven't written my cards or bought a single gift yet, and there is still such a blessed thing as Advent.
I guess Capitalist Advent has been moved back to June or something.
Now there's all this hubbub out there because Wal-Mart is ditching "Merry Christmas" for "Happy Holidays."
So? Just as he once booted the money-changers from the Temple, methinks that's actually what Jesus would want.
You see, "Christmas" is being home with family, getting beautiful cards from people you don't talk to all year, eating seven fishes on the Eve, Midnight Mass with prime sanctuary seating and carols ("Once in Royal David's City" being my favourite); "Holidays" is standing outside Best Buy shivering your ass off in line at 4am on Black Friday to get gifts of megapixels, gigabytes and high-definition at half price.
It seems I just don't get it. Why we need Christ's blessing -- and his tres-lucrative name-branding -- on the obscenity of hysterical people kicking, jumping, pulling on, stampeding and punching each other to get the newest PlayStation for little Timmy must be some kind of Evangelical dogma; of course, they long ago traded bread and wine in for the Real Presence of Capital.
I don't need creches everywhere to be reminded that it's Christmas; I pull out my Advent wreath, write my cards and fire up the Nat King Cole and my boy choir on the iPod and I know. And that's all I need.
And how I, or anyone, can praise the gift of Jesus' birth by going to an over-crowded, crazed shopping mall and buying material things (while getting kicked, jumped, pulled on, stampeded and punched) is beyond me, too. Again, I guess it's some kind of Evangelical tenet, that it's the economy that's God incarnate, stupid. And that's just scary.