Once in Royal David’s City

Advent has come and gone again. Christmas day, too, and now we count down the last of the twelve days. For more than a week, in many cases, trees (real and artificial, green, pink, white, silver, plastic, aluminum) have been taken down and thrown out or packed away with the rest of the decorations. We spent the four weeks of Advent gradually lighting candles to symbolize the coming of the light of Christ into the world. It seems a shame to snuff it out so soon, much as Scrooge tried to do with the Ghost of Christmas Past (but that’s another story, and another tradition). So, as part of our family’s tradition, we keep the candles (or what’s left of them) burning – at least for a couple of hours – every night until Epiphany.

One of my own personal Christmas traditions has been to listen to the live broadcast of the “Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols” from King’s College, Cambridge. I missed it this year but, fortunately, have a copy of the festival from 1998 or 1999 to listen to. I know that by the middle of December I’ve heard about enough of “Santa Baby” and “Dominic the Italian Christmas Donkey” and been beaten into submission by holiday themed commercials (especially for cars, and even more especially for Lexus’ “December to Remember” sale). But even now I am still a little sad to have the season come to and end, and to pack away the decorations, and the festival of lessons and carols for another year.

In three months’ time we will celebrate the same light in a different way, at the Easter Vigil. Fortunately, at least so far, Easter hasn’t been completely overtaken by commercialism (don’t see any Easter car sales commercials, do you?). And I can look forward to hearing the Exsultet by candlelight again.


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