Drafty windows are sealed, fall jackets are put away, snow shovels stand ready on the front porch, and the advent calendar is up. It’s Christmastime in Vermont.
There are myriad physical preparations Northerners must accomplish before the first snow: snow tires on each car, furnace check, assessment of last year’s winter gear (do those boots still fit you?), etc. It’s the last chance you’ll get to wash any windows before spring (and you’ll need access to all the light you can get), you might want to bring the riding mower’s battery into the basement, and don’t forget to mulch the garden.
It’s a whole series of items to do- some of which could arguably wait until spring but most of which will be worth doing now because they will save you money or time later. Some of them even keep you safe and warm.
One of those things is to put up the Christmas lights before December. Recently, a woman visiting from the Mid-Atlantic commented that she thought it was very festive of me to have my lights and decorations up already. (Those quaint Vermonters!) I admitted that I only have them up so early because I don’t want to be out there winding little lights around trees when it’s below freezing. Besides, in a place where it looks like evening at 3:20pm, we need all the festive atmosphere we can get.
And we try to get pretty festive around here. Christmas music begins as early as mid-November at our house, scheming and secret present-making begin soon thereafter. The mailing of cards to friends and family far away begins to draw our hearts out to others in the spirit of Christmas. We collect “Change for change” and start thinking about where we can best contribute in our community. We sing carols or read a Christmas book or do some other family activity each night as part of our month-long celebration.
Although I doubt Christ was born in the month of December, I love that this is the way we Christians end each year. I love that we celebrate his birth in the darkest month, that we gather our family around us and love them when it is cold outside. It makes me smile, and it makes me want to see others smile, too. I want to see light in the eyes of strangers and joy and peace in the lives of friends. I love that the charitable aspect of the season is still big and widely accepted, no matter how religious one might be.
It’s the season of love and good tidings… good news… gospel.