Each year, as the final month of the year appears on the horizon, we begin to notice that something is different. Some people say it is the final drenching of color blown from our trees to the ground below which heralds the coming of a new season. Others talk about the cold bursts of wind that prompt us to get out the winter clothes. Very often it is the tantalizing commercials to buy something new and different which will be, of course, the perfect gift for someone you love because “Christmas is coming.”

But that’s not the whole story, is it?

Although autumn leaves make magnificent panoramas and chilly nights point to the imminent coming of winter, and the commercials certainly hold out to us some great gifts, they are only part of the story. Or, maybe it is more accurate to say, they are not the real story at all.

The real story is spiritual. It is the story of Jesus and His birth over 2,000 years ago. Yet, somehow or other His story is lost among all the other “Christmassy things” out there. One example that stands out is our country’s fixation on what has come to be known as “Black Friday.”

Enough said about that.

December is truly beautiful, but in another sense. In addition to encompassing the beautiful Advent Season, and the yearly remembrance of the Birth of Christ, it also holds two of Our Blessed Mother’s Feastdays. December 8th is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and December 12th is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

It is these two Marian celebrations, together with our Advent customs, that usher in the celebration of Christmas. Her Immaculate Conception prepared her to become the Mother of God and research informs us that her appearance as Our Lady of Guadalupe highlights her maternity, for she wears the traditional, customary, cultural clothing of a pregnant woman.

I wonder how many Catholics know that?

How can we get back to the real meaning of this season? What do we need to do to reclaim our Catholic heritage?

Let each of us, in our own families, find a way to honor Mary’s December feastdays and the nine-day Christmas Novena. And as for me, I’m going to sing, “O, come, o come, Emmanuel” and then I will change to saying to all I meet the Christian, traditional “Merry Christmas!” Yes! That’s what I am going to do. Also, I’m going to sit near the nativity and put on old-fashioned Christmas carols and just gaze at the scene in the hopes that this year it might sink in a little deeper what it is really all about.

Yes, that’s what I’m going to do.

And you?