Oh man. I fell off the blogging train. My bad. It’s a bummer I had to miss out all the deliciously tempting conversations about the elections. I know you really missed out on One More Opinion.
Oh well… I’m back!
So this last week was Thanksgiving and I am trying to limit my desire to cook for a family of 20 when my current family is 4, including myself. I come from a line of cooks who don’t stop until the pot is full, and therein is my downfall.
I make enough soup for an army and we could survive for at least 10 days on the leftovers. We are on day 6 and still have 2 pots of turkey vegetable soup. SOUUUUP for days!
I can’t drive by a grocery store (especially one of those unique ones with the stuff you can only get there!) without feeling the pull to stop in and browse the sales.
If only I felt that way about exercising.
This season is SO easy to get sucked into marketing. We want, need, all the things. All the stuff. All the sales. The deals. The every single thing the marketing team has made so enticing and imperative to my daily life.
What is actually required for daily life? Food. Water. Shelter. I hear my mother’s voice chanting that mantra in response to my childish whinings for more stuff. My inner child still whines even though I have more than enough food, I have an amazing “shelter,” and clean water on tap.
I have what I need, so why do I believe I need more?
Enter Advent. (By the way, non-denominational Christians like me- did you know Advent is the start of the Christian new year? It is. And it’s kinda awesome, so look it up! You are welcome for this unsolicited suggestion.)(Also by the way, I don’t know if Advent should be capitalized or not, I’m just doing it to emphasize the importance of it in my life. So, sorry if it’s not.)
I didn’t know it as anything other than some sort of fringe holiday term until recently. In the last few years I have learned who I am more than ever before. Having kids really brought me to the edge of myself and forced me into an uncomfortable place of examination and reflection. Do I lose myself to my kid’s needs and wants, ignoring my own self in the process? Do I lose myself to pursuing whatever makes me comfortable after a long trying day? (wine, food, a good sale, etc?) For some reason the holiday season adds to the stress and even free time is easily dissolved in holiday parties, school performances, and elaborate meals. I get sucked in without a fight.
Not this year, not anymore.
In the 46th Psalm David speaks for God, saying Be still and know that I am God. Celebrating Advent helps me do this. It is me fighting against the marketing and saying I only need One Thing. The Stillness that leads to knowing God, the anticipation of God in this life, the recognition and anticipation of Immanuel, God-with-us, Jesus.
I readily confess I have barely scratched the surface, but I wholeheartedly embrace joining believers around the globe in the preparation of my heart for the wonder and awe of the Christmas story about the God who comes to earth in the form of a human child.
As I learn I keep it simple. For me, for my family, for the kids, (3 & 1 years old). At least this year, this is how we are celebrating Advent.
I got a simple advent candleholder and placed 4 candles for the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas, with a larger pillar candle in the middle. This is the plan: Each of the 4 candles stand for the week’s theme, each a virtue Jesus gives us.
Week 1: Hope.
Week 2: Love
Week 3: Joy
Week 4: Peace.
Before dinner each night we pause in our day to light the previous week’s candle and the current week’s candle, and talk about the current virtue. The plan is to go through the weeks and light all candles including the middle one to celebrate the Light of the world on Christmas day.
We are still in week 1, and since my kids are really young we focus on the phrase “Jesus is our Hope” and what that might mean. My super-spiritual 3 year old said “I hope Jesus tells you to give me ice cream after dinner.” We had sherbet in the freezer, what could I do but giver her some? Ha! That should really solidify the lesson!
My hope (ha HA! Hope all around!) is that these themes will take their place in my heart and my children’s hearts as integral to the season of Christmas, and that we will be grounded by daily pausing to prepare our hearts for the day of celebration on the 25th when the weary world can rejoice because we truly are celebrating the dawn of a new and glorious morning.
Would love to hear how any readers celebrate Advent!