The decorations went up early, but the preparations took longer. Were I not looking at a calendar, I would not know tomorrow was Christmas. It’s sneaking up on me for the first time in my life. With the markers of Advent altered or changed by a global pandemic, I’ve stumbled through the season of waiting and anticipation.
We’ve done so much waiting this year. For news on the spread, for test results, for jobs to return, for the ability to travel safely. For the arrival of a vaccine and the coming of hope. Waiting for Christmas is just one other thing on the long list. Advent started with a cry from Mark to ‘keep awake,’ for you do not know when the time will come. Here, at the end of Advent, Christmas has sunk up on me like the proverbial thief in the night.
It’s fitting, in a way. Everything about the story of Christmas is subversive. A poor baby causes the most potent emperor to tremble with fear. A king is born in a stable while travelers to unimportant to name fill the inn. Wise kings provide the newborn with funeral spices and then stalk off in the night, undetected. Nothing about Christmas is as it seems. And now, a date set and foretold since the Gregorian reform in October 1582 has managed to sneak up on me. Well played, 2020.