The Benefits of an Old Calendar Christmas

On Jan. 7, the bustle is gone. All that is left is the bare essential, the one needful thing, the Christ back in Christmas.

If you too felt that premature sense of dread when the shops started sweeping the artificial cobwebs out of the corners to be replaced with the artificial frost, welcome to the club. I say premature because it seems that "Christmas" is coming earlier and earlier each year. In my local grocery store, they were scarcely rid of the Halloween candy before the Christmas candy and lights came up. I say dread because that can only mean that soon Alvin and the Chipmunks will be singing again.

I must confess that, aside from the Chipmunks, I absolutely enjoy all the hullabaloo that surrounds Christmas. I just think it comes on far too soon. If I had my druthers, it would start a stately and proper four weeks before the blessed event...somewhere around December 13. Yes, I said December 13. If the average reader out there thinks the Christmas season is starting earlier and earlier, try celebrating the Nativity as many Eastern Orthodox Christians do--on the Julian (or "Old") calendar, January 7.

We Old Calendar Orthodox Christians get a lot of questions about this. But there are definite advantages to putting the feast off for almost two weeks after many Christians celebrate:

1. You are more likely to have a white Christmas than if you went with the crowd and celebrated on the Gregorian Calendar. I remember the first year I, as a convert, celebrated my first "Old Christmas." It snowed--in Atlanta, Georgia. We have had a total of two white Christmases in the past four years--if you count eight snowflakes and a run on the bread and milk at the grocery store as a white Christmas, which I do. (For those trying to manufacture a white Christmas, a word of advice: potato flakes work much better as fake snow than soap powder, and they are more environmentally safe. They don't foam up and wash away in the rain. On the contrary, when the potato flakes are moistened by rain, they fluff up more and are less likely to blow away.)

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2. Santa is well rested by January 7.

3. Fruit cakes keep forever, and unto ages of ages.

4. When you forget to buy a gift for someone, you can say, "I didn't forget. I'm pious." This will not go over well, but it's hard to argue with. This actually addresses a subject that many people assume to be true: You get to shop all the after-Christmas sales and get all the great deals. This is untrue. To illustrate my point, look at your Thanksgiving turkey three days after that holiday. You tell me if there's anything worth eating.

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