Advent as a Time of Preparation

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My youngest, whom I currently refer to as The Kid, is shaping up to be a Pinterest Queen.  She’s much more skilled in the decorating arts than I will ever be.  And she has been drooling over Christmas projects since Oct. 1.  Alas, her mom is a downer. I fight the celebration of Christmas for as long as possible.  And in our environment, that’s not very long.  One of our local radio stations has already been playing Christmas songs for a few weeks.  I try to skip over it quickly when we’re surfing, but she heard it the other day and pleeeeeeeeeaded with me to leave it on.
“You know how I feel about this,” I reminded.
“I know, it’s way too early,” The Kid responded, bobbing her head to the music.

 

It’s Advent. And it won’t be Christmas for many weeks yet.  I’ll put up a tree before Dec. 24, due to some practical logistical constraints.  And we decorate (but nowhere near anything Pinterest-worthy), of course. But we are still waiting. We are still preparing.  The time has not yet come.

 

I like what Smart Martha has to say about what you can do NOW for a better Advent. What can I do to eliminate the stress of preparing for Christmas and truly ready my heart for Jesus, whose past and future arrivals we prepare for during Advent?  This is not a religious blog, but I think slowing down and evaluating what is truly meaningful to YOU, whatever and however you celebrate the upcoming holidays, is valuable.  Once you have realized that, you can prioritize which events and task are worth your and your family’s time and energy.  So that’s step 1!  After that, what can you do help make more time for what is meaningful?
  • take a day.  Take a day off. Go on retreat.  Visit a spa.  Or the library. Or the river.  Spend some time alone to rejuvenate yourself in preparation for the busy-ness to come.
  • does the food make the holiday?  Prepare one food in advance.  Or one per week. Whatever isn’t overwhelming.  If you can prep a batch of cookies, tamales, the stuffing or the cinnamon roll dough for Christmas morning ahead of time, you’ll have that much more peace.  This philosophy is what inspired me to create the Make Ahead Holiday Meal Planner.  That’s how important it is to me!
  • trade babysitting with a friend so you can intentionally wrap gifts in quiet, reflecting on each recipient.
  • finish gift buying as far ahead as you can.
  • have simpler meals.  Not necessarily stark, but simpler.  This helps save you time and resources that can be put towards upcoming celebrations, but will also serve as an appropriate contrast to the indulgences of Christmas.  Our Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine brothers and sisters do this formally with their Nativity Fast or Philip’s Fast.

 

I try to make a big distinction between Advent and Christmas.  I work very hard to celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas to their fullest. And that is easier to do if I’ve fully realized the season of Advent.

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