Husband & Wife Articles


 

Keeping Christmas

‘It ain’t over till it’s over’

By Teresa Tomeo

Now that Christmas day has come and gone, the world is telling us it’s time to move on. The secular radio stations that had started the season too soon – switching to Christmas songs right after Thanksgiving – have switched back already to Taylor Swift and Black Eyed Peas.

Or turn on the TV and see the “after Christmas” sales. Many stores did a repeat performance of Black Friday and opened up at the crack of dawn or earlier. And you probably have already seen at least one story about safely discarding that real Christmas tree. I know because that was often my assignment in my former life as a TV news reporter when I showed up for work the morning of December 26th.

The world is saying Christmas is over and setting its sights on the New Year. Yet as Christians, we should pull a Yogi Berra by declaring in a number of ways “it ain’t over till it’s over”!

In the Catholic Church Christmas has only just begun. Traditionally Christmas refers to the 12-day period that begins with December 25th and ends with the Feast of the Epiphany. You know the song – “twelve drummers drumming, eleven pipers piping …”

So what are you doing about saying no to the world and yes to a truly Catholic celebration of this holy season? For me and my husband, this special time has been easy to embrace. We are both of Italian heritage and the Feast of the Epiphany in Italy and in many Italian American families is still a big deal. Not one candle, ornament, or Poinsettia plant is touched in our house until well after that feast. We were engaged in the month of December in a most romantic and festive setting; by a covered bridge in the Christmas town of Frankenmuth, Michigan, about an hour north of Detroit. And while we had a beautiful beginning to our life together as husband and wife, things weren’t always peaches and cream.

As I explain when I share my testimony, at one point before we came back to the Church, we came close to divorce. The fact that we, thanks be to God, were able to save our marriage, is a constant source of praise and thanksgiving for us, especially this time of year. We take nothing for granted. We love everything about Christmas, before, during, and after. My husband’s birthday, January 4th, falls, in the middle of the Church’s Christmas season which is of course another cause for celebration. We also, over the years, have done our best to learn a little more about what Christmas really means in the Church.

Did you know that some of the most important feast days and holy days fall within the eight day time period or observance that begins with Christmas Day? On January 1st, for example, we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, a holy day of obligation.  Why not have your kids put down that video game and sit with you by the computer as you search online for some ideas on how to mark these important days on the Church calendar? This is one way make the faith real and tangible and also a great way to start new traditions that hopefully will be passed on to the next generation.

As Pope Benedict XVI reminded us during his Christmas Eve message, Christmas has become too commercial. He said we need to see through the “superficial glitter and discover behind it the child in the stable in Bethlehem so as to find true joy and light.” So put some more logs on the fire. Pop in some Christmas CDs. Sing some more carols and continue to celebrate the baby in the manger. Glory to God in the highest and peace to his people on earth, even those throwing out the tree and heading to the mall. Maybe if more of us keep this time sacred, others will catch on and see that now is truly the season to be jolly. Amen!

Teresa Tomeo is a Catholic mother, author and radio host whose latest book is Extreme Makeover: Women Transformed by Christ, Not Conformed to the Culture. Her website is TeresaTomeo.com