My latest project is recipe scrapbooks into which I am compiling recipes, photos and stories. As I scrolled through my vault of writings in search of holiday themed essays, I came across this one from 2010. I think it was written as a way for me to reconcile my Catholicism with my love for Christmas decorations. My kids, now on the brink of full-blown adulthood, are not as likely anymore to gather around the Advent wreath with me for prayers, or collect stars from the Advent calendar as we count down the days to Christmas Eve. But this narrative reminds me of all the joy that is still present in the season, even as my family scatters like dandelion seeds to fulfill the duties of our days. Happy Advent, everyone.
While the city is alive with Christmas decorations and as families are planning their gifts and activities and preparing their homes, we Catholics are reminded throughout the Advent season that it is not, in fact, Christmas just yet. Sometimes, I attend Mass only to leave feeling guilty for having already put up my Christmas tree. Obviously, I need to work through these feelings.
I love the Christmas season, whether it is celebrated liturgically or secularly. I love it for the lights and decorations, for the magic and mystery. I love the planning and preparing – both in my home and in my heart. I am generally cheery and positive, but let’s face it – I am waaaaay more joyous during December. I find that I smile more, I giggle more, and I am more generous with both my time and my treasure.
Every time I look at my office doorway and see the red stocking peeking in, I am reminded of the season’s magic. I love the signs of the season, and I want to display them as early as possible because I love the feeling that I have during the holidays.
I know the season is not all about presents, shopping and Santa. I know it is about celebrating the birth of Christ. I love the liturgical significance of Advent in that it tells us to “prepare.” I want my children to feel the Christmas spirit all year long, because the reason for Christmas is with us all year long. I also want them to understand the liturgical significance, so we have an Advent calendar and an Advent wreath. We say daily prayers during Advent, and we do our best to prepare room in our hearts and home for the Christ Child. Advent is a time to recollect and ready ourselves for Christ. I always thought that meant I had to chill on Christmas until December 24 and allow Advent in as a time to rest and wait. But that’s virtually impossible for me to do. I want Christmas, like all. the. time.
To me personally, Advent is about anticipation, not delaying. Preparing, not waiting. We should be busy now – preparation is not a passive thing. May each Advent – whether busy or restful – lead our hearts to the perfect Christmas.