And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, the wise men left for their own country by another road. (Matthew 2:12)
Are they gone? The decorations, are they all packed up, put away, and forgotten for another year? Like the wise men from the East, have you seen what you hoped to see, done all you hoped to do, and now moved on and left Christmas behind, just a (hopefully) warm memory on a cold, January morn?
The calendar says it is a new month, January, and a new year, 2022. But today, January 4, the season remains the same. It is STILL Christmas! I am always surprised at how surprised people are to hear this. It's like they have never heard the song, "The TWELVE DAYS of Christmas." What exactly did you think that song was about? Christmas runs from December 25 through January 5 and then we celebrate the visit of the wise men on January 6, the Day of Epiphany.
It's a shame we are in such a hurry to move on and leave Christmas behind. Pack up the decorations. Throw out the leftover cookies. No more Christmas music on the radio. Not only are stores already filled with Valentine's, but even signs of Easter have made an appearance on the shelves. Yes, the world has moved on.
It's a shame because, as the song says, "we need a little Christmas," for more than just a day. We need the awe and wonder of the season beyond December 25. We need the hope and joy Christmas can bring in February, May, even September. And we need the promise of God's beloved community to be born over and over again, in our world and in our own hearts, all year long.
I am not suggesting we leave the tree up and decorated all year. Rather, let us be not so quick to leave it all behind. Let the wonder, and hope, and promise of God breaking into our world linger with us even as we give flowers to our Valentine, drink our green beer, and enjoy the fireworks of Independence Day. When we find that random pine needle from the Christmas tree that somehow evaded the sweeper until June (how does it stay hidden so long?), may a smile come to our face, joy enter our heart, and may we sing out loud, "Fa la la la la, la la la la!"
All I am saying is give Christmas a chance, a chance to last more than a day, a chance to take root in our hearts, a chance to truly change our world. Just as the wise men went home by a different way, may our encounter with the Christ-child take us on new paths as well.