Okay, maybe not the first we've heard this admonition, but he was a bit clearer on what this meant. Leave the "Christmas" things until Christmas -- this didn't mean avoiding Christmas parties (aka "Holiday Luncheon and Gift Exchange" at the office) or Christmas gift shopping, but that in our personal lives we'd live the "lesser Lent" and prepare for the coming holiday in humility. The household decorations don't go up until Christmas Eve, for example.
Well, here in the Pacific Northwe(s)t we need every protection against the grim, grey weather that is well-known to cause depression, resulting in folks moving away after a few years. So our outside lights were turned on at the beginning of Advent and will remain on until Twelfthnight.
But other old family traditions remain. We're not going out to chop down or buy a Christmas tree tomorrow -- last year we bought a fake tree. (Local prices coupled with the fact that nearly all local vendors are shut down *before* Christmas Eve dictated that move.) It will be erected, decorated, and presents placed beneath it tomorrow.
But all of that is an aside.
With the approaching Christmas gift-exchange tradition I've worked on it in advance. But for me some of it requires visiting actual stores.
So on Tuesday, being on holiday from work (and uncertain what I did Monday except wind down), I headed out to the local stores to look for "lesser presents." My first stop was a housewares store, and to be frank I wasn't there to look for gifts but to look for three small items to fix/improve the household.
Now I've been traveling a lot, and family have tried to insulate me from the "Christmas shopping," but the instant I entered this housewares store completely overwhelmed me with its loud blare of Christmas music, Christmas displays, and Christmas wares (which I don't think you will see the rest of the year). The music and displays... all I remember is wandering through the store looking for the non-Christmas items I sought (didn't find them), looking briefly at their "Christmas"offerings" (no sale) and moving on and out in a complete daze.
Fully observing Advent hasn't been easy, especially this last week. Maybe I will appreciate Christmas, beginning to end, all the more -- I certainly hope so!