It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas …

Way back in 1951 when music legends Perry Como and Bing Crosby sent Meredith Wilson’s song, It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas to the top of the charts, the theme of anticipation resonated with families around the globe.

The popular lyrics also found their way into the 1986 Home Alone 2: Lost in New York holiday movie and continue to be on the top 40 list each season.

Whether you’re a fan of this tune or not, I think we can both agree it conveys excitement and anticipation for Christmas — and the reminder of joy ‘on your own front door.’

Certainly, countless other Christmas carols capture the theme of anticipation on multiple levels.

For me, my favorite songs remind me to reflect and prepare for what is come.  Songs like Silent Night (1818), O Holy Night (1847), and O Come All Ye Faithful (1751).

I call this out as households are busy preparing for the holidays. There’s a flurry of added activity, decorating trees, navigating shopping channels, wrapping and shipping presents, teaching patience to little ones, wondering if there will be a certain something under the tree …

This year, there’s also the anticipation and planning for how to celebrate ‘together’ through video calls, virtual caroling and remote unwrapping of presents.

2020 has been anything but ‘normal,’ at least by the standards of the last 50 years.  We have adjusted to the realities of a global health pandemic and economic losses due to COVID, restrictions we never thought possible, and the uncertainty of when ‘will we get through this.’

Yet, when I reflect, I remind myself that Christmas is about what is to come, about the promise of freedom from bondage, about the hope of a better future.

Think about past Christmases – not just yours, but those across the globe and throughout the centuries.  Our forefathers fought plagues, famine, wars, slavery, genocide, disease, and destruction – all without modern medicine and an equitable justice system.  Even as recently as the first half of the 20th century, the world lost 100 million people in devastating wars and another 100 million to the Spanish flu pandemic.

Since the establishment of the season of the Advent of Christmas 1700 years ago, we have, even in our darkest times, entered this season with hope and anticipation.  Soldiers on the battlefield took pause to consider the common experience of their enemy.  Those stricken with illness or poverty found meager ways to celebrate and shared their dreams of a more blessed future to come.

So, each year, we all share a common bond with countless ancestors who brought their troubles to the threshold of winter and found joy in this season.

For my family, Christmas doesn’t begin with the holiday creep as soon as Halloween candy is devoured. Christmas begins December 25 and we celebrate through January 6, sometimes called ‘Three Kings Day,’ with special surprises and time together.  The four weeks leading up to Christmas are a time of preparation and reflection.  It’s a gift we give ourselves to prepare spiritually.

Whatever your Christmas traditions are — my wish to all of you is the joy of anticipating what is to come.

Merry Christmas and may you have a happy, healthy New Year.