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The Twelve Seconds of Christmas

Since when did they turn the twelve days of Christmas into twelve seconds? I have always been a Christmas traditionalist, probably because of how I was raised. As much as we could hardly wait for Saint Nick, the after-party was almost as much fun. Christmas leftovers and the assorted snacks of the season remained on display on gaily colored platters and candy dishes. It was the one time we did not have to put our toys away; they remained in the open under the tree for us to play with at will. The Christmas records that only came out once a year played in the background. There was not a thought of taking the tree down until the sixth of January, liturgically the Feast of the Epiphany (Three Wise Men), or what we used to call “Little Christmas.”

Under the theory that we need more rather than less of Christmas, my wife and I extend the season until the Baptism of Our Lord, this year celebrated on January 11. However it is as if a holiday force field has been erected around our home, shutting all signs of the Nativity from the rest of the secular world.

I realize the shopkeepers start the season early, right after Halloween, but can’t we wait a few days before the trees go in the dumpsters, the stores tear down the decorations, and the radio stations stop caroling? Theologically speaking, it is as if Joseph packed up the Holy Family immediately after the Blessed Event and fled to Egypt, presumably because the lines to exchange gold, frankincense and myrrh at the Bethlehem Walmart were too daunting.

A number of our friends from different Christian sects, Roman Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Episcopalian, all seem to exhibit the same rush-out-of-Christmas behavior. There is only one religious group we have friends in that is dutifully tradition oriented. But it seems antithetical to me that in order to hang on to Christmas I have to become an Orthodox Jew.

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