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Christmas party soon? No thanks

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Dec 04, 2009

Are you planning a Christmas party sometime in the next 3 weeks? If you are, and you’re thinking of inviting me, I can save you the cost of a postage stamp. Thanks, but I won’t be attending. 

This year I’ve made a small resolution: I’m not attending any Christmas parties during Advent.

To tell the truth this will be easy for me, because I live in a small town with a small circle of friends, and most of my professional acquaintances are far away, reachable only by electronic communications. I’m not exactly swamped with invitations. Still I wonder what would happen if others took even a step or two in the same direction, to discourage premature celebrations.

Advent is a season of preparation, and it’s just plain wrong to prepare and celebrate at the same time. We’ll all be making material preparations for Christmas Day: buying presents, wrapping them, hiding them from sight. If you open all the presents now, you won’t have the same thrill of excitement on Christmas morning. The same is true of spiritual preparations. We all need to spend some time in quiet reflection, realizing how desperately we need a Savior. That quiet reflection—which is incompatible with partying—steady builds a sense of longing that then explodes into the joy of the Nativity celebration. Without that time of reflection you cannot build the same longing; without the longing you cannot experience the same explosion of joy. 

There's great wisdom behind the Church's liturgical calendar. We need the time of preparation, for emotional as well as spiritual reasons. We need Advent, and I for one am not going to miss it.

Then when Christmas does arrive, remember that the feast only begins on the 25th. There are 12 days of Christmas: that’s a reality, not just a song. Plenty of time for parties, and I’ll be in the mood.


Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: - Dec. 20, 2009 11:41 PM ET USA

    A priest once told me, "we can throw a Christmas party, but not during Advent!"...I never understood this. I was so confused I didnt even know how to ask "why?". After reading this article, I think it's finally in perspective. Thanks!

  • Posted by: - Dec. 18, 2009 10:02 AM ET USA

    In this article, you sound a lot like the Grinch talking. So much of scripture, in a variety of ways, reminds us to make peace with our neighbors as preparation for meeting our Lord. It seems to me contrary to the True Spirit of this season to shun your neighbors parties because you are afraid they might think you are celebrating prematurely. What better way to prepare for the Lord's coming than by reaching out to as many of your neighbors in peace, joy, charity, and gratitude?

  • Posted by: samuel.doucette1787 - Dec. 08, 2009 3:17 PM ET USA

    Excellent suggestion! My wife and I are devout Catholics but we also realize it's all too easy to get caught up in what I call "secular Christmas" (ie, the season from roughly Nov 1 to Dec 26) instead of real Christmas which means Advent first and then the liturgical season until Baptism of the Lord.

  • Posted by: c_truelove7100 - Dec. 08, 2009 11:00 AM ET USA

    Thank you for writing on this. I've been trying to convince people to have Christmas parties during Christmas, but it keeps seeming to fall on deaf ears.

  • Posted by: JARay - Dec. 05, 2009 12:43 AM ET USA

    I would like to see this sentiment taken up by more people. I am fully in favour with it.

  • Posted by: adamah - Dec. 04, 2009 1:37 PM ET USA

    Excellent reflection. I won't be going to Christmas parties at my office either. Here, they call them "Holiday Celebrations." I'm not sure what they are celebrating.