Welcome to the KingZoo and Funny Farm, where we learn to live, laugh, and love together. Here you'll find snippets of life in our zoo, parenting tips we've learned along the way, reflections on shining God's light in this world, passions in the realm of orphan care, and our journey as parents of a visually impaired child with sensory processing disorder. Have fun!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Bah humbug - never!

We're those people you've been complaining about. You know, the folks who start Christmas long before Thanksgiving? Before October has reached it's end, in fact. I guess we even have the Hallmark and department store folks beat.

To our credit, we have good reason. For the past 4 seasons we've had 2 or more children in the Christmas show at Allenberry. For a show that opens the first week of November, one must start rehearsals in mid-October. But actually, at home we've pulled out the Christmas CDs even before that. We need this much time to listen to Christmas music, decide what we want to place in this year's King's Strings concerts, write music as necessary, order some and put the rest on "repeat" so we can listen to it over-and-over again and learn it by ear. And then of course there's practicing together. This all takes time and I don't think our December concert-goers would appreciate it much if we waited until the first Sunday of Advent to start thinking about Christmas.

But if you're looking for an apology for our pre-Halloween Christmas joy, you won't find one. Why not celebrate Jesus' coming longer than the prescribed Sundays of Advent? Listening to and singing Christmas music for so long has been very beneficial in preparing our hearts. In fact, I overheard one child tell someone, "I'm so glad we're a musical family because we get to listen to Christmas music longer than most people." So besides the fact that our Christmas preparation schedule is determined by the activities we find ourselves in, I do believe it's possible to redeem the commericialization and prematurity of holiday celebrations. Consider this:

Who decided that it's only possible to prepare our hearts for the one month of Advent? The flip side of this is the phrase I've often heard from Christians: We should have Christmas in our hearts all year long. While I'm not really into trite sayings, I have a feeling that these are some of the same people who start complaining when Christmas shows up in October. I love to talk with my children about the Christmas songs we're listening to and to pull out the Christmas storybooks. The childlike wonder can transform any Scrooge. And isn't that our role as those who believe in the real reason for Christmas? I'd love to see us redeem the season by spreading joy (even if it comes right after Halloween) rather than complaining every time we see a premature Christmas display.

If "love came down at Christmas" and if we are to "spread the good news of Christmas" all year, then I want my children to practice that. Rather than be known as complainers, I want my family to spread joy wherever they go. If someone hands my daughter a Santa Claus sticker, I could loudly announce to the store cashier that we don't believe in Santa. Or I could say, "Just think, all day long when you see that sticker on your shirt you'll remember Jesus, the best gift giver ever!" Or we could talk about Santa Dan, a good friend and godly man who uses his Santa look-alike features and beard to dress up and bring toys, food, and other necessities to the less fortunate people of central Pennsylvania. And if I see a display that incorporates the true meaning of Christmas (and not just a generic holiday banner), rather than bemoan the fact that it's too early to advertise the season, I want to thank that business for being willing to use the word Christmas. Complaining won't stop the stores from commercializing Christmas. But a little extra joy and light at a stressful time of year could do wonders for ourselves and those with whom we come into contact.

So I say with gusto: Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Santa Dan and his wife, of course!

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