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THE TWELVE SHORT DAYS OF CHRISTMAS
January 4, 2014
 
Amid the still-here-almost-gone uncertainty of the admittedly short Christmas season (at twelve days, it is the shortest season of the year except for Ascensiontide), I waver between putting it all away and toughing it out until January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany. Episcopalians pride themselves on not anticipating Christmas. Many of them appoint themselves community scolds, filling Facebook with reproaches about how much better a world this would be if people just wouldn't sing Christmas carols before December 25. Me, I think it's going to take more than walking back Adeste fidelis to bring that about. But what do I know, really?

The ancient church must not have known that in the early days of AD2014 I would feel as trapped as I do by my Christmas ornaments. Is it okay to ditch the wilting evergreen arrangement that was so pretty when it arrived but has since sagged far below its original perfection, or do I really need to cling to it until the 6th of January? Might I retire the little ceramic Christmas tree from the front window so as to bring the amarylli, impatient to bloom, into the light? If so, I need to keep the thing in place, and tell the amarylli to wait their turn.

But I am eager to press on into the new year, happy for the birth of the Child but ready, now, to attend his growth in wisdom and stature. Who knows? Maybe I will do some growing myself.

These days my principal path of growth seems -- paradoxically-- to be coming to terms with shrinking. Learning to delight in the smallness of a life that used to be bigger. Nothing is the same: my house, my strength, my routine. This year I have shed the barnacles of old obligations with trepidation: will it really be okay if I don't do this? And this? How about this? Will it really be okay?

Of course it will. The world never did turn on my traditions. They were always just mine, and the people they touched were always fully capable of being touched by something else. Everything takes its place in the past. This is a fact. It's only tragic if we say it is.
Copyright © 2018 Barbara Crafton
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