Advent was here and gone in less time than it took to blink. Before I knew it, we were lighting the last candle on the wreath, and the Mass schedule for Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year’s was printed in the parish bulletin. It didn’t feel like there was a lot of time to build up Christmas spirit, especially with it being 75 degrees and pouring rain this entire week.
But this Advent, I’ve restricted myself to listening to only Christmas music because there’s nothing worse than waking up three days before one of the most sacred holidays of the year with the latest piece of Top 40 awfulness stuck in your head. Much better to constantly be humming along to “O Come All Ye Faithful” or “The First Noël.”
So I was looking at the lyrics of “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear,” which was written in 1849, and realized that the world hasn’t much changed. With human nature being the way it is, you can’t expect it to. Every year, it’s the same thing: human beings are too caught up in all the noise to focus on the angels singing, and it seems like every year, the holidays get more frantic and hurried. The commercials get more insistent, Christmas decorations appear in stores earlier and earlier, pop stars keep destroying traditional Christmas hymns, and in all the rush, we don’t actually hear anything.
I think peace and quiet would make an excellent Christmas gift, but there is not normally a way to achieve that unless someone gives you an all-expenses-paid trip to a deserted island or offers to babysit your kids for a week. Almost always, nobody will, so we have to carve out our own small slice of time (maybe a half hour, maybe even a whole hour, if you’re lucky) away from all the stress and craziness so we can get some perspective on our lives and the world.
Look now! for glad and golden hours
come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!