Special season begins

We set the electric candles in the windows this morning, carefully arranged the creche and its cast of holy characters on the piano, hung the wreath on the front door and struggled to get our new tabletop tree out of its carton and set up more or less vertically. For years, we have chosen to decorate our house on the weekend after Thanksgiving. Tomorrow marks the first Sunday in Advent, the period observed by Christians as a most holy time of anticipating the birth of Christ.

For many retailers, the Christmas season starts immediately after Halloween or even earlier. The annual barrage of gift-centered television commercials isn’t far behind. Impossible to ignore that. On Thanksgiving morning, NBC airs its annual orgy of self promotion it wants us to believe is a parade. Not to me, it isn’t. The network’s transparently self-serving three-hour commercial more closely resembles a glitzy night club revue that marks the official start of the marketing and selling period leading to Christmas.

Our family prefers the Advent idea, which helps us to ignore the hype and concentrate instead on the joyful message of Christ’s coming. Bring on the carol singing, the inspiring worship services, the gorgeous concerts, and the mealtimes we share with those we love most. And the giving.

You should freely choose how you observe and celebrate this time of year. Our wish is that for you this period becomes a season of thankfulness, joy and hope.

Today’s word: marshal or Marshall? Marshal as a noun spelled with with one “l” designates an officer of high rank or a federal or municipal officer of the law. As a verb, marshal with one “l” means to assemble a group of people in order. The word is commonly misspelled as having two “l’s.” That’s incorrect. Spelled with two “l’s,” Marshall is a proper noun, someone’s name.


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