Greetings, my fellow port swillers!  Six days late because of illness (which see below) and Thanksgiving travel last weekend, but a very happy Advent to you all!  As you can see here, ol’ Robbo got his wreaths up this morning, thus ensuring a steady stream of confusion over the next few weeks on the part of mailmen, delivery people and general callers at the front doors of Port Swiller Manor.  (“How come the ribbons are purple?)  I also chucked the remaining fall pun’kins into the creek and mulched the clematis, wisteria and jasmine round the base of the back porch.  A good day.

Advent has become more and more important to ol’ Robbo over the years as a liturgical season.  Indeed, it is becoming much more of a Lenten-like time for me (as it used to be for the Church as a whole) and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if in the next few years I didn’t start introducing more acts of penitence to my current routine of study and reflection.

Of course, this also has the effect of making the outer world’s “Holiday Season” all that more jarring to me.  I couldn’t help noticing yesterday that all the banners on the lamp-posts downtown, in addition to bearing words like “Joy” and “Love” feature….pictures of shopping bags.  I was actually both amused and bothered by the kerfluffle at the University of Tennessee this week over a memo warning not to allow “religious themes” at “holiday parties”.  (The memo came from the same office, btw, that tried to issue a draconian speech code a couple months back and was laughed out of touch.)  Back in the day at the People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown, we didn’t have “Secret Santa”.  Instead, we had something called “Non-Sectarian Gift Giving”.  I fear that same spirit has pretty much infected the general culture now.

Now I am sure there are many people of good will who go in for all the commercialism and consumerism and gaudiness of the “Holidays” with genuine good will.  And I have no wish to dampen their generosity and caring.  However, I increasingly see the thing itself as intrinsically evil, a mockery of and distraction from what Advent and Christmas are actually supposed to be about.  (Yes, I know – religious and social pluralism and all that.  Fine.  Then drop the Christina symbolism still attached and go appropriate your own markers.)  It doesn’t take much imagination to guess the source of such mockery and distraction.   So in my own, small way, I intend to take what steps I can to further isolate the “Holidays” from my mind, to ignore them or, when they get to be too much, mock them.  So when, in the next few weeks, you see posts here labeled “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Holiday, Dammit”, you’ll know what ol’ Robbo is about.