It’s this time of year that I post my annual “Bah humbug” message to all those premature Christmas-ers out there. It’s not time for Christmas music yet, Christmas decorations in October, yada yada, blah blah, Bah Humbug.
But as of 5:30 this last Friday morning, standing outside of a Radio Shack in my neighborhood waiting for a chance to buy a ####### (no peeking, Girzilla!) at a greatly reduced price, I lost my moral high ground. I can no longer be One To Talk.
I guess that’s a good thing. Another chunk of my wall of pride knocked to the ground. Despite years of my own high-minded refusal to be “one of those people” who stand in the cold waiting to rush into the stores like cattle and fight for the doorbuster items, there I found myself doing just that.
The person behind me in line that morning was a friend from church. We acted like two AA oldtimers who bumped into each other at a neighborhood bar. “Er… I don’t usually… I wouldn’t normally.. uh.. my kid.. you know how it is.”
The Giftmas season is upon us. And I am content this year to acknowledge myself as a full participant. I am much more at peace with the early lights, trees, and tinsel now that I can recognize Giftmas — a totally separate but similar and overlapping holiday — when I see it. I can still set aside part of my heart for Advent and wait for the real Christmas that starts just as Giftmas is ending.
In this overlap between Giftmas and Advent, there is a tension in waiting for something when it seems everyone else around me is already enjoying its fruits. How often do we have to wait in faith for something that we see people all around us enjoying? When I was younger and poorer, I got to watch my richer friends enjoying possessions that I had to wait for years to earn. It was not my time for that. When I was in the early years of fathering a young Girlzilla, I envied my single friends’ and my empty nester friends’ disposable incomes and vacations and Saturday morning sleeping in. It was not my time for that either. I have many single friends who are struggling to lead chaste lives, engaged people admirably saving themselves for their upcoming marriage. They live in the midst of a culture that definitely does not wait to enjoy those fruits. It is not their time either, but they wait in the presence of those who don’t wait or don’t have to. Talk about resting in the tension.
I’m not saying this to condemn those who are not waiting for a particular thing at a particular time. I’m just saying that there are seasons in our lives, my life, when it is just not time yet. And you have to live with the reality that many others all around you are not in that season. Advent is just that sort of waiting to me.
What am I waiting for? What do I want for Christmas? Why the hell was I standing outside a Radio Shack at 5:30 in the morning the day after Thanksgiving? I’m not really sure. Good thing I have a few weeks to sort it all out.