Three weeks of another year’s Advent are past; the one that’s left is just a few days long—Christmas Day itself peeks ‘round the corner. The three weeks behind me have already been framed and filled and formed by a dozen dear traditions, from sacred to silly; the few days ahead hold the most cherished, even holy, traditions of all.
Why do we love a ghost story at Christmas? How does the ghost story speak to the eternity in our hearts? Out on the Mira, perhaps, around a bonfire, there we expect the “witches and werewolves and Oak Island gold.” But why now, as we celebrate starlight and the birth of a baby?
I’m no longer ashamed to admit that I own and wear Christmas Pants, and I think you should too. My understanding of how to celebrate the Christmas season has changed recently, and I’ve had to rethink how I comport myself and how I manage my classroom in December. Do you own a pair of Christmas Pants?
My daughter, Mary Judah, has very strong opinions about paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe. MJ cannot stand O’Keeffe’s work.
We did the audio tour for the O’Keeffe special exhibit at San Francisco’s De Young Museum years ago. One of the stations on the tour included a recording of O’Keeffe herself talking about art and what makes good art. She said something along the lines of how good art has fewer and fewer details and distractions.
From Thanksgiving through to Christmas, our tables boast their finest display of the year.
A popular Christmas song tells us that, when the bustle of Santa’s big day, with the busy sidewalks and the children laughing and the snow crunching, makes its assault, we should listen for the soothing silver bells . I love those busy sidewalks and the children laughing and the snow crunching and all the activity that the season demands. Yet, traditionally, Advent is a time of silent waiting, of reflecting and fasting, of anticipating the Messiah.
Where do we find time for silence and stillness?
Advent is the season of preparation that leads up to the season of Christmas and is the beginning of the church calendar. “Advent” comes from the Latin word that means “coming.” It is far more than a count-down to Christmas.
In our online poetry class, we teach our students to read and understand poetry by asking questions. Although it sounds a bit formulaic, you would be surprised how a few well-placed questions demystify a poem: Who is the speaker? Whom does he address? What is the subject matter? What images or metaphors does the poet present to explain or enlarge his meaning? What form does the poem take?
Questions like these can illuminate John Donne’s classic Christmas meditation, “Annunciation.”
In Old Testament times, people carried personal idols around with them to receive guidance and blessing from their deity. Unfortunately, this tradition is often perpetuated in modern times by the way we carry our smart phones. We fear to part with them. We constantly check them to see if they have any messages for us. When posed with a tough question, our first reaction is to ask them for help.