Once upon a time, I was an Advent purist. This was probably when I was in seminary and it was certainly before the girls were expressing their music preferences.

I tried to not listen to Christmas music, except when it was forced upon me in places such as stores and the like. I did not wear my Christmas sweaters, pins, or earrings. I stuck to wearing blue or purple, trying to avoid red and green. I did some Christmas preparations – made cookies, bought gifts and wrapped them, and prepared for Christmas preaching. But overall, I tried to hold to the season of Advent, this season of waiting and preparing. I see some of my church-geek friends and colleagues holding onto the season of Advent, almost in a death grip, eschewing Christmas carols, cookies, clothes, and traditions until it is actually Christmas.

Now, times have changed for me. We still keep and hold Advent, but we enjoy Christmas traditions as we move through the season of Advent. We light our Advent wreath at dinner every night and we sing O Come Emmanuel. But sometimes we sing O Come All Ye Faithful, as we make our way to Bethlehem. We read the stories in our Advent books and we read the Christmas and Epiphany stories too. We wear our bright red and green Christmas clothes and socks (yes, socks!) as we attend Advent Lessons and Carols and think of the second coming of Christ, as well as prepare to remember the birth of Jesus. (But, yes, I do shudder when I hear Christmas music on the radio before Thanksgiving.)

The house is decorated, soon our tree will be up, and we will keep Advent and Christmas and Epiphany (January 6th!) in songs and hymns, in decorations old and new, in favorite foods, and in celebrating the birth of Jesus. I know that I will hear the girls singing Christmas music, and sometimes playing the Veggie Tales Christmas Album, not just in December and January, but often in July too. Anytime of year is a good time to give thanks for the gift of Christ’s Incarnation. O Come and Sing and Go Tell it on the Mountain!