It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…
Well, OK, let’s be honest. It started to look a lot like Christmas in my local stores by the 20th of August, and the first commercial using jingle bells aired on Nov. 4.
This used to drive me completely nuts. When you have children, it’s hard enough to teach them that stuff is not the essence of life without the onslaught of catalogs and ads. And what about the season that gets shoved unceremoniously aside in the service of Mammon?
What about Advent?
As hard as it is for me, I can only imagine that it must be infinitely tougher for single parents. I mean, at least I have backup. When you carry the world on your shoulders, how do you find time to make Advent special for your children?
Well, here’s what I’ve learned in the past three years: the key to a spiritual Advent is organizing the mayhem, not steering clear of it altogether.
I used to be a full-time liturgy music director, immersed in the seasonal worship. Yet I never derived any benefit from it. Every night I had to excavate the Advent wreath from a pile of unfiled papers, half-read books and unpaid bills.
Scripture? Fuggeddaboudit. December was about survival.
Imagine my surprise, then, to find that what made Advent observance real was embracing the secular busyness.
Three years ago I started planning out the season day by day: baking cookies, getting the tree, shopping for our parish Giving Tree, everything. I put the activities on slips of paper in a wooden Advent calendar and turned it into a morning ritual for my kids.
And guess what? It transformed the season. It broke down the craziness into manageable chunks, and in so doing, released my heart from anxiety.
Suddenly, the Jesse Tree Scriptures spoke to me. Suddenly, the sight of purple candles leaping into flame brought tears to my eyes. And for the first time in a decade, Christmas felt like Christmas.
This Advent, give it a whirl. Make yourself an Advent calendar (in whatever form works best) and plan the season. Give yourself the gift of a peaceful spirit.
Joy to the world!
Kathleen Basi is the author of Joy To The World: Advent Activities For Your Family, available from Liguori Publications.