Even as La Crosse area residents take down tinsel and lights, Sister Julia Walsh is still listening to holiday tunes and sporting bright green Christmas socks.
For her, the holidays aren’t finished, and they won’t be for a long, long time. The Franciscan nun has pledged to celebrate Christmas every day for a year.
The experiment is an effort by Walsh and the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration to extend holiday sentiments beyond the last days of December — to recall reasons for the religious celebration long after people dump their Christmas trees and stow away their Nativity scenes.
“‘Peace on earth’ is considered sort of a Christmas saying,” Walsh said. “To me, it’s a year-long saying.”
Walsh has a few ideas of how to keep the holiday spirit alive.
She’ll watch Christmas movies and listen to Christmas music. She’s already tired of the holiday tunes on her computer, so she’ll probably look for new songs to spice up her collection, she said.
She plans to freeze Christmas cookies, and eat them on the 25th of each month, and will keep a Nativity scene displayed all year in her bedroom and in her Aquinas High School classroom.
Walsh knows she might get annoyed by some traditions as her Christmas celebration draws on into spring, summer and fall. But the experience is more than withstanding a daily barrage of holiday cheer.
Walsh hopes to deepen her appreciation for the religious foundations of Christmas.
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“Christmas every day is about living in a way that constantly illumines God’s presence of light and love and goodness,” Walsh said.
That so-called “Christmas spirit” fades after the holidays, even though it’s badly needed in the community, said Jane Comeau, FSPA communications director.
Comeau helped come up with the idea. People easily forget the charitable nature of the holidays as they pack away Christmas, “both literally and figuratively,” Comeau said.
“It’s one thing to be glad that some of it’s over, but how to you keep that spirit?” Comeau said. “How do we not forget that there are still food shelves in March? The Salvation Army still needs us in June.”
When asked about the idea celebrating Christmas every day for a year, Walsh’s first thought was it was something she already does as a nun.
“I said, yeah, of course I do, I’m a Christian,” Walsh said.
Cookies, music and movies might get old, but the spirit of the holidays won’t, Walsh said. She will dedicate her time to advocating for social justice, helping the poor, and fighting for world peace – all in the name of Christmas.
“How do I extend that message?” Walsh said. “That God came to be with us. That the light is stronger than darkness.”