Personal Post: Rambling Thoughts on Advent
Does anyone else feel slightly exhausted at this time of year? I absolutely LOVE the Christmas season but year after year I find myself striving to create the perfect holiday experience and it's tiring. I so easily get wrapped up in the consumerism, the scented holiday candles, and the decorations. I start to feel like if I don't cross off every tradition on the list, it's not really Christmas. Then, at some point I become conscious of my attitude and am usually appalled and saddened that I've twisted things so much!
I get disappointed when I'm unable to recreate the magic of Christmas that I felt when I was younger. It's like I think that by listening to Christmas carols while sitting by the tree is going to evoke these warm fuzzy feelings, and when they don't come I'm sad that I'm not "experiencing Christmas".
I know I'm not alone in this.
And while these Christmas traditions are not bad, in fact they really can be fun and memorable, what if I told you that these traditions are not what Christmas is about? When I remind myself that Advent is really the gift at this time of year, I am relieved that I can stop striving.
A quote I LOVE that perfectly embodies Advent to me is this:
In the silence of a midwinter dusk, there is far off in the deep somewhere a sound so faint that for all you can tell it may be only the sound of silence itself. You hold your breath to listen. You walk up the steps to the front door. The empty windows at either side of it tell you nothing, or almost nothing. For a second you catch a whiff in the air of some fragrance that reminds you of a place you've never been and a time you have no words for. You are aware of the beating of your heart. The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only be the extraordinary moment just before it happens. Advent is the name of that moment."
Doesn't that seem so peaceful? And relieving? Advent is about waiting and preparing. Instead of a loud and exuberant shout that Christmas is here! It's a peaceful yet exciting time of anticipation for the birth of a baby boy. I don't need to perform and create the perfect experience, I need to have an open heart. I don't need to wrap my Christmas up in a bow of perfection, I need to be willing to step back and just be present in my messy life. I don't need to buy the best gifts, I need to offer small yet meaningful gifts like shoveling our neighbors driveway, or looking the struggling mom in the grocery line in the eyes and offering an encouraging smile. The hope of Christmas doesn't come from the newest toy, it comes from knowing all things are being made new. So today I'm praying for a renewed heart and mind. Praying that I could be content with what I have, present to my loved ones, and praising the One who has given me everything.