Saturday, July 12, I was resting on the couch flipping through the dials when I landed on the Hallmark channel. I stopped to watch a network advertisement indicating Christmas specials to begin, October 31, three and a half months away. I feel certain this message will appear again, more frequently as the end of October approaches.
The same day, I went to the Hallmark store in Fishers to purchase a few cards, and discovered the annual collection of Hallmark Christmas ornaments for 2014 revealed this weekend. The ornaments are displayed along one wall, with stacks of boxes under each ornament ready for purchase.
I wonder what small children must think when they enter the store and see multitudes of ornaments and decorations on display in July? I can just hear a young tyke say, "Is Christmas tomorrow Mommy/".
Our second daughter, Anna, was born in March, 1985. I often heard how the second child or any child after the first, doesn't receive as many remembrances as the first. This was true in our family. Sarah, our oldest daughter, had three, "baby's first Christmas" ornaments given by family and friends. By the middle of December, Anna had none. I went to the mall, hoping to find an ornament for this sweet second child. Well, I went to every store that sold ornaments including Hallmark -- each clerk told me, "Sorry we're out of those."
I thought to myself, I should have gone to the store in July if I want a baby ornament for Anna's first Christmas!! Eventually, I did find a tiny glass stocking with "baby's first Christmas" and the year engraved, which hung on the tree with the three others her sister received.
What can be said about preparing for Christmas beginning in July, already picking up speed for the chaos which will eventually arrive in a few months? Liturgically, we are in the period called "Ordinary Time' occurring between Pentecost and the beginning of Advent. Ordinary Time is a great space to prepare our hears for the coming of Christ, which is already being announced on television and in stores.
Focus on Jesus. Explore and study the ministries which shaped his life and the lives of others. Examine how he responded to all people and who he spent his time. Take an aspect of Jesus' story, healing, forgiveness, compassion, and examine how you can incorporate Jesus' life into your own, while the time is 'ordinary'. Choose an event or person from the Old Testament on which to explore more deeply.
And, by the way, if you have a new baby in the family or one due before Christmas, you might want to stop by the Hallmark store in the next month to make sure you get an ornament to commemorate your little one's first Christmas.