Today is Epiphany, which means that the holidays are over — I leave for work in about half an hour, which means I really need to stop writing this and go away and get ready — and once again, I feel that they went by too fast. I did not enjoy them as much as I used to.
Part of this is, admittedly, nostalgia. Things always look rosier in hindsight. Nonetheless, the holidays are less enjoyable than they used to be because I am not now in a church.
Churches — especially Episcopalian churches — are wonderful at celebrating the holidays in ways that are meaningful. Advent (the season before Christmas) provides events that mark the passage of time, slowing it down and ensuring that you stop and experience the season.
Advent brings Advent wreaths. We
sued used to have an Advent wreath: for years, we would light the candles before each evening meal and say the prayers for the week. We stopped doing that when it became clear that I was the only one who was interested in keeping the tradition alive.
Advent brings that most wonderful of holiday traditions: the Episcopal church service known as Lessons and Carols. I always loved this service, my second favorite in the liturgical year after Easter Vigil Mass. I was once fortunate enough to be in London the weekend that Lessons and Carols was celebrated in Westminster Abbey. It may have been the most beautiful service that I have ever experienced.
I used to take all these seriously. I used to read at Lessons and Carols. I used to help decorate the church the day before Christmas Eve. I don’t anymore, and my life is poorer for it. Now the month of December is much like any other month, except with more stress.
I want my holidays back.