One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord.
Romans 14:5-6a (ESV)
Holidays are a challenge. I don’t mean just the “I have to put up with aunt so-and-so and cook a ton of food” challenge. Holidays seem too narrow. Why do I need one day a year to focus on being thankful? Should I not have a spirit of gratitude all year long?
I have been accused of being somewhat of a humbug by my children and friends. Maybe I am resistant to being told how to feel. Maybe it is the length some of these feelings are supposed to last. I am sure the commercial exploitation of some of these “feelings” sours me as well.
I appreciate the church calendar, though. It is a useful didactic tool and aids in receiving a balanced diet of teaching and reading every year. Plus, there are lessons to be learned about submission by following it. (My birthday, for example, tends to fall in Lent, and occasionally on Ash Wednesday.) I am a fan of Advent, the lesser of two penitential seasons on the church calendar. Advent gives me ecclesiastical insulation against the onslaught of American holiday madness. (I don’t care what Starbucks puts on their cups and I won’t be shopping for anything this Friday.)
Beyond that, focusing expectations on a single day throughout the year seems too narrow. Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, birthdays, Mother’s and Father’s Day, the list goes on. I hope I make those closest to me feel special and loved more than one or two days a year. Why should I have to wait to give someone a gift?
Even on the church calendar, I tend to only observe the “major” feasts and fasts of the year — the “red-letter” days. I appreciate many of the saints of the past but I don’t see the point in celebrating one particular day for them. Some of these people are my friends and mentors; I interact with their letters and books more often than once a year.
I have had to learn to accommodate those who esteem one day as better than another. I have some in my family who really enjoy the build up and arrival of a special day even though I do not. It’s not a theological or moral position as much as it is my temperament. I am pretty even keeled and that extends to days and seasons.
I am not an Eeyore. I try to have a level of gratitude and celebration every day. I also have an element of sorrow and repentance most days. I take some solace in remembering that the first instances of most of our special days came as a surprise. Mary knew the time for giving birth was drawing near, but she didn’t know exactly when. The disciples did not expect Easter. Pentecost, Ascension, even our commemoration of saints are tied to dates that weren’t planned — at least not by man.
Any day can be special; we just have to get out there and see if it is.