It’s the second day of December. And it’s the second day of summer. And here in Australia, the latter is more evident. I am approaching my 7th holiday season in Sydney, and while this is now the single location in which I have celebrated Christmas the most often, this year is not quite the same.
Usually, I have been in Denmark for the build-up period, experiencing autumn and winter and rueing the dark and rain. The joys of travelling to the middle of summer at an instant (if 24 hours of flying time qualifies as an instant) are obvious: no more cold, getting wet not from incessant rain but from gentle waves at a sunny beach.
This time, though, I have been in Australia all through winter and spring, and summer feels quite in place. Christmas, however, does not. Sure, Christmas trees are up, both in our home and on streets and plazas. Holiday shopping is well underway for a lot of people. On Sunday, we’ll be going the Messiah at the Sydney Opera House. Things are gearing up for the festive season, but it does seem a bit awkward in the heat.
Which once again highlights the brilliance of early church fathers when they chose to merge the pagan midwinter’s feast with celebrating the birth of Jesus. Light is best appreciated in light of darkness. Grace is best appreciated in light of condemnation. It’s easier to see a great light if you’re walking in darkness.
I will enjoy a long and warm summer. And don’t get me wrong, I am looking forward to Christmas. But I’m finally beginning to see that more distinct seasons have at least one advantage: it gives you something to look forward to. For now, living in the moment seems almost too easy.