Truth: By this time last week, I was already sick of Christmas. Those of you who know me may have a hard time believing that. Christmas has always been my thing. When my husband and I were dating, we had to have several (heated) conversations about when the appropriate date to start playing Christmas music would be. (me- October 1st. him- December 23rd) However, working at a church makes Christmas your busiest time of year. I have two MAJOR church events I am coordinating that happen between December 21st and 24th, involving most of that week and about 200 people. Overwhelming.
And then there is the fact that I have two children. All of a sudden, there is so much pressure to create Christmas memories. Pictures with Santa. Tours through the lights. The perfect tree. The decorated house. The Pintastic holiday cards. The music. The cookies. The candy. The parties. The Christmas PJs and Christmas dresses and angel breakfast and nativity plays and presents for daycare teachers and… And… AND…
It was December 8th. My house was not decorated. I had no tree. No Christmas cards. No energy. I hadn’t been able to go to worship at my church for 2 weeks because I was too busy doing OTHER things for church. I wanted it done.
Amy, my pastor/supervisor/friend, gave me great advice. Advent is about celebrating the approach of Christmas, not its onslaught. Instead of feeling overwhelmed that Christmas is only 3 weeks away, savor the fact that you still have 3 weeks to prepare for the coming of our Lord.
nounThe arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.
Advent is the discipline of anticipation. It is about arrival, not about adherence. It is the practice of preparing our hearts and minds to meet the Lord. It is not about decorations, trees, or creating new memories. It is instead, about savoring the shared memory that we as Christians hold together. Christ has come. As a baby, as a Savior, as our Sacrificial Lamb. This season is about privilege, not obligation. And for me, it may not be about the date on the calendar. I can celebrate the miracle of the birth of Christ just as honestly the week after Christmas as the week before. And perhaps that needs to be part of my personal spiritual walk, at least in this stage of life.
But that doesn’t resolve what to do with the STUFF that comes along with Christmastime… And here is where I have landed. I am going to try and mine the original intent from these practices. I want to see these things as part of the celebration of advent. The lights can remind us of Christ, the LIGHT of the world. The parties, a way to celebrate this miracle with those who we hold dear. The cards, a way to send our thoughts and love to our people far away. The gifts, a chance to remember the Gift we have been given. And if something robs me of my joy (*cough* ELF ON THE SHELF), it gets eliminated.
And now, from a better place of mind and heart, I can say,
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Let your heart be light…
And then there is this… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgOIYvDgSLg