ERROL CASTENS: With Christmas, anticipation mustn’t overwhelm the realization



Sometimes we humans can, as my wife’s dad used to say, mess up a soup sandwich.

We decorate and anticipate and accessorize and merchandize and shop ’til we drop and wrap ’til we snap for months in advance of Christmas.

We start singing carols on All Saints’ Day, taking the slightest breather from frenzy to give Thanksgiving a nod of our collective head.

We hang icicle lights while wasps are still swarming and anchor blow-up snowmen as soon as the lawn has had its last mowing.

And sometime on Dec. 25, we’re ready to damn Guglielmo Marconi to perdition after our formerly favorite radio station blares its 4,573rd rendition of “Little Drummer Boy.”

Too often, about that time, we see little more than a mess in the living room and a mess in the kitchen and a mess in the checkbook and a mess in our hearts.


We forget that “Peace on Earth, good will toward men” was not stamped with a due date and thus were disappointed when Uncle Charlie lobbed rantings across the Christmas dinner table.

We were disconcerted that people still are lobbing rocks, bullets and rockets at each other, too.

But Jesus’ birth wasn’t exactly a Hallmark moment, either.

Oh, the angels sang and the star shone, sure enough. The shepherds gathered ’round and marveled.

Later, when Mary and Joseph were in somewhat better quarters, the wise men showed up and worshiped and gave some pretty fabulous gifts.

But the angels presumably went back where they came from, and so did the wise men.

Sheep and shepherds and stables stink. (Hallmark usually doesn’t mention that.)

It wasn’t long after that, that Herod’s slaughter of the innocents began, and Joseph and Mary fled with Jesus across the godforsaken wilderness to Egypt.

And yet Christmas is not supposed to picture the bursting of a bubble of artificial expectation. Instead, it pictures the fulfillment of our greatest need, our most earnest longing: The arrival of Someone to save us from ourselves.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

So banish the post-holiday blues. The Lord of the occupied manger and the empty tomb is come.

Now, a bonus for having read this far: Visit – even if you have to go to your local library to do so.

Get ready to catch your breath.

Contact Daily Journal reporter Errol Castens at (662) 816-1282 or

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