We all complain about it. The Christmas season is too busy, too hectic, too commercial, too non-religious. As soon as Halloween ends, sometimes as soon as midnight, up go the store decorations for Christmas. And some stores start their Christmas decorations before Halloween.
Christmas has become about money. We want to take it back, but the usual suggestions for doing that look like even more work for people who already have crazy schedules.
Writer Jody Collins has a different idea, and a different approach. Living the Season Well: Reclaiming Christmas describes what that is. And it begins with understanding that “living the season well” may be as much about rest as it is about activities.
Observe the seasons, she says – Advent, Christmas, the 12 days between Christmas and Epiphany, and Epiphany. Help your family, and especially your children (and grandchildren) what those seasons means and where they come from.
Consider liturgy as a gift, she writes, a gift that explains, uplifts, and provides meaning and context to the Christmas season. Advent is a time of waiting and expectation, so build that idea into your celebrations with simple things and ideas. Don’t go all out on decorations – scale them back to focus precious time and resources on the people in your relationships – family, friends, acquaintances, and church. And completely rethink the idea of Christmas presents (I particularly like what Collins has to say about presents and “presence”).
Each chapter has sections with a history lesson, word play, learning opportunities, and action ideas. These are tools designed to encourage you to reflect, consider, and possibly adopt – and preferably adopt in the place of something else. The idea is to reduce and simplify, not add to.
Collins retired from elementary education after a 25-year career, and has written non-fiction and poetry for a number of online sites, including Altarwork, Jennifer Dukes-Lee, Grace Table, and (in)courage. She serves on the worship team at her church, and she and her family live in the Seattle area. What she has included in this compact book has been distilled from lessons she learned from her students, her children, and her grandchildren.
Living the Season Well is a guide, but it’s more than that. Collins wants you to think about the Christmas season in all of its meaning and glory, and all of its core simplicity.
Top photograph by Gareth Harper via Unsplash. Used with permission.