The first Sunday of Advent actually falls on December 1st which means all those secular “count-down to Christmas gifts” Advent calendars actually make sense!
As readers know, we don’t have an Advent wreath. The reason: Shelby. Shelby and candles are a trainwreck even when not lit.
Now, even most of my “get one holiday over before starting the other” friends have their trees up and their entire houses done up. Let me tell you, up here in Chez H…not a single box of decorations has made it into the house. Not because I think it’s too early but because I live with the Grinch. Jeff likes Christmas as much as any dad of three but he doesn’t handle decorations well nor 24 hour holiday music. We’ve listened to some Christmas music but I’ve kept it to a minimum and we made an agreement. The decorations will make slow appearances over the next four weeks and, well, the tree will go up and be trimmed Christmas Eve. So, I avoid the house getting out of control with the decorations too quickly and he avoids losing his mind over the amount of decorating taking place.
Advent is a time of joyful preparation. That is important for me to remember as it somehow tends to come down to a time of stressful throwing things together. Simple is the name of the game. And this year, I’ve actually accepted it. Sure, this week is nuts, but it’s nuts-and-bolts kind of nuts: a doctor’s appointment, BSF and a school field trip. Friday is Saint Nicholas Day and I’ve only got a little to do to prepare. I was able to get a lot done toward it over this weekend.
This year, I have let go of the need to be perfect, the guilt of not measuring up. This year, more than ever, my kids’ eyes are on me. Joseph is really out in the world now and he knows so much more now. Now is the time for my children seeing through my actions not just hearing through my words that JESUS is the reason for the season, not presents, not ridiculous commitments, not decorations or fancy dinners or any of the madness. I could wallow that I can’t buy my kid every electronic thing and let my kids know I feel bad OR I can emphasize what we already have that many do not: our family, our health, our faith. I can let my kids know that what money cannot buy is worth more than a full Christmas tree. And I can’t just say these things, I have to live them.
So, this first Sunday of Advent comes with both simplicity and challenge. Much like Christ’s commissions to His followers: following him sounds so easy, but is radical in our time as it was in His. But if I am to prepare for His birth, I must truly prepare no matter the cost. No matter what the world thinks. So bring on the slow decorating and the lack of hurry. Bring on the wait.