Advent is here. Are you ready? I’m not. Once again the beginning of the liturgical year finds me woefully unprepared.
There are those who are planners and preparers and those of us who aren’t. If you’ve got all your stuff together and are already ready for Advent and Christmas, or even well on your way to being ready, I’m happy for you and this isn’t in any way meant as a criticism of you. I just am not that kind of person, never will be, and have finally begun to make my peace with that. I will do things in my own time and in my own way and I will do my best not to look over my shoulder to see where anyone else is. That’s just how I am. I like to do things slowly, slowly, slowly.
Like Alicia writes here, I try not to stress over Advent. The thing is Advent is a time for preparation in itself and for me that means I don’t prepare for Advent, not really. Perhaps it makes sense to some people; but I can’t handle preparing for preparing for preparing. So one day last week Dom went and bought some Advent candles. On Saturday I located the Advent wreath and Nativity scene and Christmas books. As in I identified the boxes they were in in the office, I didn’t do anything with them. I expected I’d at least put the Advent wreath on the table at dinner.
And then Sunday afternoon found me feeling lazy and uninspired about the dinner ingredients int he refrigerator and freezer. I’ve fallen off the menu-planning train since I’ve been pregnant and still haven’t really got back into the swing. Thus we decided to go out for BBQ instead of cooking. Which was great as we got all the kids into bed super early after we got back and there were only breakfast and lunch dishes to clean up at the end of the day. But it means the Advent wreath is still in its box. And you know that’s ok with me.
There are still four weeks until Christmas. We’ll clean up the house a bit today and put up the wreath and maybe the Nativity set too. Perhaps tonight I’ll get around to wrapping the Christmas books. I rather like that idea. If not, then they’ll just go out in a basket on the coffee table and that’s ok too.
I did spend a bit of time yesterday afternoon brushing up my Advent playlist on iTunes, trying to decide if I want to buy more music this year and if so what. I didn’t make a commitment; but I probably will buy an album or two. If I can find a good one with primarily Advent hymns, I’ll buy that. I’m sure at least one Christmas album will call my name.
The Catholic school kids were selling wreaths after Mass; but I forgot my wallet and Dom didn’t have cash. Still, they’ll be there again next Sunday. We won’t buy a tree for a couple more weeks. Probably either the third weekend or even the fourth of Advent. It isn’t a firm tradition, I just don’t like it up too early. Most of the decorations will go up with the tree.
Christmas cookies probably won’t be made until maybe the week before Christmas. Or when Bella begs or something inspires me.
It’s nice to know I’m in good company. There are other moms out there striving to have a low-key Advent. Jen wrote a nice primer, Baby Steps for Celebrating Advent, culled from reader comments and I am so grateful to her questions for once again reminding me that it is ok and more than ok to do little things with love rather than to give in to the tidal swell that wants to force me to try to do everything big and grand and implement every cool idea I see. (#12 is my suggestion for storytelling with the Nativity scene.)
Karen Edmisten has a No- Panic Advent series of blog posts that is also a great reminder about keeping things manageable. And Karen’s been at this mom thing a bit longer than I have.
It’s good to go back and revisit other favorites too. Leila offers beautiful reflections on keeping Advent as a time of wonder with children.
Finally, Idoya Munn writes about trying to celebrate Advent for the first time and feeling foolishly ignorant. She makes me feel fabulously put together by comparison and grateful to have been an inspiration to another mom trying to find ways to make her home a place for welcoming Christ. It’s good to be reminded that we are all baby stepping our way toward Christmas together, even if I do feel a bit like the blind leading the blind. Incidentally, despite her husband’s laughter, I think she is absolutely right when she says, “But I thought Advent was about the Christ being the light.” If I can keep that one idea in mind throughout the next four weeks, I think maybe I can begin to prepare my heart to carry that light.
Last night on the way home from our fabulous BBQ dinner (Tennessee’s isn’t quite Texas-style BBQ; but their brisket isn’t half bad.) the girls had fun spotting the first Christmas lights of the season. “Christmas lights!” they’d yell, whenever they saw a house lit up. And then, “Christmas lights! Advent! Christmas lights! Advent!”
Sweet Idoya also reminds me of this piece I wrote last year about Bella’s finding Jesus in what she already had, not needing anything external to bring Christ into our home. Another great lesson about poverty of spirit that I need to learn again and again and again. And isn’t that what Advent is really about? Returning to the beginning to learn anew the one important thing.