Christmas Begins After All The Christmas Stuff is Done

Charlie Harper

Wednesday, December 20th, 2023

We’re almost there.  The end of the year is in sight.  We’re locked in on Christmas, when most of the country slows down or stops altogether for a much needed break.  Productivity will be at its annual low. 

The lead up to Christmas is the exact opposite.  By now, many of us are tired – even if we don’t know it. 

We’re trying to do all the stuff we have to do in our normal everyday life. Then we have the holiday gatherings.  There’s the company parities, friends we don’t see that regularly, and family – lots and lots of family – that somehow all have to fit in the schedule.

To make all that happen, there is travel.  Whether extra trips near our homes or those that require airplanes and luggage, more people are moving around us everywhere.  It seems every bad driver is in front of me at Every. Single. Intersection. 

On top of the travel there is extra food and beverages.  Lots of food.  Often too many beverages.  Some of us attack Christmas snacking as if we’re preparing for hibernation.  We tell ourselves we’re going to lose ten pounds for a New Year’s resolution while we ignore the fact we’re actively gaining fifteen. 

None of this comes cheap.  Much of the U.S. economy has evolved around our year-end spending habits.  We’ve morphed from a people who spend some of what’s left after the farm crops have been sold to a nation that sees how far the credit limits on our credit cards will take us.

Those of us celebrating Christmas do all of this telling ourselves we’re going to have a perfect Christmas morning.  Many magical memories are made when children wake up on Christmas day and see what Santa brought them. 

For the adults, there’s the realization that the lead up to those precious few minutes are filled with a breakneck schedule, a lack of sleep, a body that needs exercise instead of more of Santa’s cookies, and the realization that there are bills arriving soon.  All of this is real stress, whether we acknowledge it upfront or put off the reckoning until the New Year.

We’ve eaten too much. We’ve spent too much. We stressed ourselves out trying to be too many places and to do too much.  Most of this we did under the guise that it would lead to material happiness.

For those of us that celebrate Christmas – and even for those who do not – is that the actual Christmas season begins, not ends, on Christmas day.  In the original Christmas story, the lead up was quite hectic and stressful.  Joseph was frantically trying to find lodging for his pregnant wife, on a trip demanded by their government so they could be counted and taxed. 

Things didn’t quite go as hoped or planned as the birth occurred surrounded by livestock in a barn.  It’s hard to imagine a less peaceful run-up to a world-changing event.

And yet, the story slows down quite a bit upon the baby’s arrival.  The couple that was either too late or not good enough to score a room in the inn gets visited by shepherds, angels, and foreign royalty.  It is this time period where we get lyrics for carols such as “silent night” and “all is calm; all is bright”. 

I tend to approach the Christmas season like many of you do.   By the time it arrives, I’m generally over people.  I don’t like crowds, and my patience for others who can’t navigate their own stressful list of tasks wanes considerably during the first few weeks of December. 

If you’re already at the point that you’re “over it”, take a deep breath.  You haven’t missed anything yet.  The world is about to slow down for a few days.  Relax, and think about what this was all about.

It wasn’t about the eating, drinking, travel, or the gifts.  That was pageantry and hopefully an enjoyable part of the preparation for the season for you.

Christmas is about what is to come.  It’s about preparing to put the past behind us.  The New Year is just ahead, where the Christian calendar will take us to Easter and the meaning of the gift of light will be fully realized. 

For the week between Christmas and New Years – and a few more days if you can work in the full twelve – there will hopefully for you be moments of calm.  A silent night or two to reflect and put it all into perspective. Take a break. You’ve earned it. 

May you and yours have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.




About Charlie Harper

Charlie Harper is a Marietta Georgia based conservative-leaning policy and political strategist.