Holiday Surprises

Though I no longer count myself a Christian, at least not a practicing one, I was raised staunchly in the tradition. So I know enough to note the absence of one true ‘reason for the season’ in our modern practices – the element of surprise. With Christmas starting right around Halloween these days, surprise is not a word we can generally apply to the holiday.

Think about it, though. Kids creeping down the stairs at 4am, awed at the lit-up Christmas tree. And then finding presents! Isn’t this the stereotype? Santa creeps, too. Presents are supposed to be a surprise. Christ being born was certainly a surprise to everyone. Earlier, people celebrated the beginning of a new cycle, as the days began to lengthen again, and as their hope sparked even in the dead of winter.

Christ’s birth, or some unexpected gift, or the awesome mystery of light appearing in darkness constitute the symbols associated with this mid-winter celebration. As opposed to the circus of holiday frenzy that we know, the stress and press of obligations, temptations, crowds, and yearning that characterize these times; as opposed to something we must prepare for, Christmas, and its predeceasing centuries of amazement at the promise inherent in the darkest of winter days, are about the surprise of it. We’re taken unawares, that’s the thrill of it.

I hope we’ll all experience a good amount of honest surprise this holiday. Even if we generally ‘hate surprises,’ we can at least keep an eye out for the unknown, the brand new, the unplanned opportunities. As we attune to these whisperings, we authentically celebrate the meaning of the holiday.

This is the time when such surprises happen everywhere. If you look calmly and openly, you will see – and enjoy them! May you revel in the gifts you receive.

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2 comments so far

  1. Hannah on

    The sense of Advent is sorely missing from our society.

    Although I’ve always wondered about the Advent/Christmas imagery south of the equator. Deep winter makes so much sense to me for the preparation and surprise. But what about when it doesn’t?

  2. Mary on

    Very good point, Hannah. Any southern hemisphere dwellers out there to enlighten us?


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