Tis the Season
Sara: Each year, it seems to be more and more of a struggle to celebrate Advent instead of starting our Christmas season early. Everywhere I look, people and stores are celebrating Christmas with super sales, Christmas trees, and “holiday” lights. It’s hard not to get caught up in the shopping for gifts (or simply items we need) instead of focusing on Jesus.
While I want Gus to enjoy the holiday season, I also want him to celebrate Advent, a season where we wait for the coming of Christ.
Justin: Waiting is an important part of Christian spirituality. As Christians, we are constantly looking forward to the ultimate union with Christ in heaven. Waiting is a skill we must develop.
Sara: It’s hard to strike the right balance between honoring Advent by celebrating that season and feeling like the Grinch in the popular story “How The Grinch Stole Christmas.” For practicality’s sake, there is always going to be some celebration of Christmas during Advent (like Justin’s work Christmas party) that we simply need to enjoy.
Therefore, I have tried to take very small practical steps to increase my focus on Advent rather than Christmas. For example, I did most of my shopping before Thanksgiving so we can simply enjoy a slower pace in life leading up to Christmas. Hopefully this will ease the burden of trying to shop, decorate, bake, send Christmas cards, and attend the holiday functions that come our way. I also try to listen to Advent music instead of Christmas music whenever possible, although I must admit that I do enjoy seeing the stores decked out for Christmas.
Justin: I haven’t done my Christmas shopping yet as I am still trying to find the perfect gift for Sara. Perhaps I can learn to wait while standing in those long lines I hate so much. Rather than becoming frustrated, maybe I can take it as an opportunity to be reminded that we are all waiting for the coming of Christ.
Sara: I have also been looking on Pinterest and other sites to find ways to celebrate Advent and there are many great ideas on how to celebrate Advent in the home. We are also trying to build on some of the traditions we have already started. For example, last year we kept an Advent wreath on our table, and didn’t put up Christmas decorations during Advent (partially because we traveled for Christmas). This year, I decided to continue our Advent wreath tradition even though it was Monday before our wreath made it out of storage. We used a beautiful prayer from the USCCB Book of Household Blessings and Prayers to bless the wreath as a family.
I love the tradition of St. Nicholas, so this year we added the celebration of St. Nicholas Day to our Advent traditions. Gus enjoys playing with everything, so St. Nicholas brought him Mary and Joseph from a Little People Nativity set in his stocking and candy for Mom and Dad.
Justin: The development of these traditions has already been very enriching for our family life and I know that by the time we reach Christmas, we’ll be ready to start the party! After all good things come to those who wait!