On October 23, Hallmark begins their Countdown to Christmas, which is two months of Hallmark Christmas movies televised around the clock. This is a liturgical problem, but not for the reasons we always thought.
The common opinion has always been that folks who jump into Christmas in late October will be burnt out by Christmas Day. And while I can’t say it doesn’t weaken the meaning of Christmas Day, it doesn’t necessarily seem to burn people out. Instead, it confirms how much we need to observe the season we’re in. Things change on All Saints Day. The change might be subtle but it’s deep. It’s the first Holy Day of obligation since August 15 and followed by All Souls Day. On top of that, we are called pray for the dead for the entire month of November. It might be Ordinary Time but it carries a lot of weight.
The nostalgia, the strong desire to be among family, these feelings we associate so heavily with the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas actually begins at the beginning of November. When we see commercials for Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas, it isn’t Santa Claus and “Jingle Bells” that attract most of us but the Christian themes and family story.
So, if binging Christmas movies from October 23 to Christmas doesn’t actually spoil our Christmas, what’s the problem? It spoils our Ordinary Time. The earlier we celebrate Christmas, the less we pray for the dead. The earlier we celebrate Christmas, the less we prepare for Advent.
You might not completely avoid the Hallmark Channel this November but here are some other ideas for November.
I guarantee that trying at least a few of these suggestions will make your November more meaningful. And even if we can't fully understand why, it will make Advent and Christmas more meaningful too.