While at my local grocery store this weekend Dom and I stopped by the manager’s window to purchase some stamps for our Christmas cards. As I swiped my card in payment, the kind grey-haired woman behind the glass asked if we were ready for Christmas.

“Whew!” I groaned. “I hope so.”

Dom chimed in behind me, asking the lady if she was ready for Christmas.

“I’m always ready!” she beamed. Suddenly, my exasperated I hope so sounded shallow and disconnected. “I’m spending it with my mom,” she continued. “People keep asking if we’re going to have a lot of presents, and I say no. We’ll be together and that’s what really matters.”

This little lady in the manager’s booth taught me something I should have known my whole life, or at least been cognizant of for the last three weeks. Doesn’t Advent give us the opportunity to be grateful, to await in joyful anticipation the celebration of God’s love for us that is Christ’s birth? Instead of thinking about the rush of Christmas cards and tentative meal plans for Christmas Day, shouldn’t I instead be thinking during the whole year of how amazing it is that God loved us enough to become one of us, and – even more – gave us each other on which to practice love?

That sweet lady reminded my heart of its values and rekindled within me a gratitude for the true spirit of Christmas. Walking out of Brookshire’s, I felt like Bill Murray at the end of Scrooged where he’s wild-haired and giddy, exclaiming, “I get it now! I believe it’s gonna happen now! I’m ready!!”

May we always be ready for Christmas!