Friday, December 9, 2011

Reflections on the Advent Season

December 1st we observed that Christmas decorations were nowhere to
be found in Buenos Aires or Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay. Now we
understand the reason this was so. Yesterday, December 8th was a
national holiday and all the stores were closed. It was the day of the
Virgin, a day when families and stores prepare and decorate for
Christmas. Churches held Mass. Today we see nativity scenes set up in
the churches and the stores decorated with Christmas trees, ornaments
and lights. But the commercial element of Christmas is nothing like
back home. Last week I checked my Facebook account and saw Christmas
postings everywhere with Christmas cartoons, comments about Christmas
shopping and people bragging that they had finished addressing their Christmas cards. (I can brag about
that myself this year).  We do not see this kind of intense
pre-Christmas frenzy in Argentina. It is early in the month I know,
but in America I saw Christmas lights on display before Thanksgiving.
The crazy shopping that goes on during Black Friday
makes up about 25 percent of our nation´s annual retail sales. This
modern consumer culture seems so wrong and just plain exhausting.

Last week we saw school children celebrating their last day of school
in the park. Families are picnicing together as they enjoy the warmer
temperatures. Next to the occasional Christmas decorations displayed
in store windows are lots of summer plants and flowers. People are
anxious to be outside to soak in the green grass, trees in the plazas
and parks in the city.  All this stands in contrast to the Advent
meditations of winter that I am used to in my northern tradition. I
like the idea that the spring and summertime bring nature alive...new
life. This will be the lense through which I observe, reflect, and
engage in Advent this year while in South America. The four weeks
before Christmas is meant to be spent preparing for Christmas day or
the birth of Christ. Advent will be a time for me to reflect on the
hope of Christ´s return and the peace, joy, love and new life He
offers those who believe in Him.

2 comments:

A Life Too Short said...

What an education you are getting. Very interesting. Enjoy your time away.

Unknown said...

So true. The cultural differences are interesting to observe. You would love the weather Julie. It is like August in Wenatchee. Thanks for the greeting