Musings From A Dentist’s Chair

A couple of weeks ago, sometime around the middle of November, I subjected myself to that twice per year form of torture known as the dentist’s office. I’m not a big fan of the dentist’s office. Something about a person you don’t really know that well taking a razor-sharp hook and prodding at your gums that doesn’t really appeal to me. I guess I also find the dentist’s office humbling because I’m not the most disciplined person in the world when it comes to using the dental floss, and so I always know that look and that tone are coming at some point: “Your gums are really sensitive. Probably could help that with a little floss there, hon.” I would roll my eyes, but I’m too focused upon a suction tube being forced into my mouth.

Granted, I know it’s important. Real important. But it’s just not my favorite way to spend an afternoon.

Of course, what made it all the more joyous was the background music.

Have a holly, jolly Christmas.

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Middle. Of. November.

Listen, I know it’s a great debate of our times. When is an appropriate time to start up the Silver Bells? Traditionalists are more in line with the old way: post-Thanksgiving. Progressives (or pro Kris Kringles, if you will), on the other hand, pump up the Jingle Bells immediately after we put Spiderman and Wonder Woman costumes to bed on November 1.

You can probably tell where I align myself on this rigorous debate. I’m just not ready to dispose of those Thanksgiving night memories when we officially ushered in the Holiday season. There was a magic to that atmosphere that offered an added edge to Thanksgiving. Almost like, “I give thanks for this turkey and dressing and for the fact that Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer will be played this evening.”

But, as pastors, we are called to be critics of the culture. As once was said, we are to hold the Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other. So, what I find myself wondering is what really lies at the center of this contentious debate? Why are some people so ready to play that Holiday cheer after Halloween, whereas others want to hold off just a little while longer? Is it just the fact that some people love Christmas music while others loathe its very existence? Or is there more?

And, why am I such a Scrooge when it comes to pre-Turkey Day Bing Crosby?

One thing I do know is that I love Christmas music. I love to listen to XM Holiday Pops nonstop… after Thanksgiving. I’m a huge fan of Sleigh Ride, especially the way the “horsewhip” cracks from the percussion section. I’m a huge fan of O Come All Ye Faithful and O Come O Come Emmanuel. And I have to give in to that guilty pleasure of singing along with The Chipmunks and their Holiday ballad Please Christmas Don’t Be Late.

But, this afternoon in the dentist’s office feels different. I feel uncomfortable, not from the fact that my bicuspids are getting pressure washed, but from an unmistakable knot in my stomach upon hearing a local DJ celebrate Christmas season this early in the year. And I wonder if, in November 2009 at least, I’m just not ready to go to Bethlehem. Not because I don’t know what my three older sisters, three brothers-in-law, two nieces, two nephews, and two parents want for Christmas, but because I’m in a season in my life that’s too focused upon the here and now as opposed to waiting for what’s to come… which is what Advent’s all about.

Maybe I’m just not ready to shift my attention to the manger because I’m too worried about coordinating logistics for our trip to Haiti or I’m concerned about students who are going through dark times or my mind is drifting to registering 40 people for Montreat’s College Conference. Maybe I’m just not very good at sitting, being, praying, loving, or journeying to the stable because other things take priority and the notion of hearing Christmas music makes my insides churn because it just means more things to do.

Maybe you can relate to this. Or maybe you just think I’m complaining and I need to just deal with it. Whatever the case, I hope all of our seasons change away from hustle and bustle towards a time for peace, goodwill, and quiet. After all, isn’t that what Silent Night tries to remind us?

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~ by presbytide on November 20, 2009.

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