This year, Advent begins on Sunday, December 3. Advent is the season observed by many Christian churches during the weeks just prior to Christmas day. In Latin, the word advent means “coming”, so Advent refers to the weeks of preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ into the world. (It’s Christmas, y’all. Christ–mas, get it?)
As I’ve mentioned about myself before, 99% of the time, I prefer the journey over the destination. In other words, I love the preparation for Christmas WWWAAAAAAAYYYY more than Christmas day. I adore Advent and our family’s Advent traditions. I love the little wooden house that my kids search for candy in every day, and I love the advent wreath and candles that we light every night before dinner. And I love that my kids look forward to being Advent Angels. (We draw names out of a box every Sunday night during Advent. You must spend the week doing nice things for the person you pulled from the box. The following Sunday, we each guess who our angel was.) These traditions are little reminders to me and my family of what Christmas is really about. It’s a daily reminder that it’s not all about the gifts and decorations. It’s a smidge of a reminder that Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus.
But beyond the religious, to me Advent has another meaning. As we’ve already established advent is the preparation time for welcoming the birth of Christ, but at the same time, it is preparation time for the creation of the holy family. I love to focus on the family, my family, particularly at this season. It’s a little family renaissance, or refresh, if you will.
Advent arrives just in the nick of time. If your family is like mine, you have just come off of the crazy, super hectic days of a new school year and fall sports and activities. Nights of eating fast food in the car, and carpools with no less than three other families involved. Fall commitments have dwindled down, the weather is becoming harsher, and it is time for a much needed physical and mental break. Although the hustle and bustle of the holidays is no joke, Advent allows for a beautiful break from all of that.
My dream every Christmas is to be done with all of the decorating, shopping and wrapping by December 1st. My motto for years has been: “Done by December One”. My driver to do this is so I can spend the whole month of December enjoying the season and my family. That preparedness allows me the luxury to sit and watch the holiday movies and specials with my kids, play games, and just be available. We can all admit that just because we are physically in the house, doesn’t mean we are tuned in and engaged with those that live there. ‘Tis the season to make an effort to change that. Christmas has a way of bringing out the kid in all of us. I say exploit that, not to the point of irresponsibility, but let yourself relax and actually have some fun, or at least some peace, and reconnect with the younger members of your tribe.
Personally, I think the greatest deficit in the American culture is the deterioration of the family. There are so many natural reasons for families to break apart (like illness for example), that we all have a responsibility to work to the best of our ability to keep our families strong and keep those man-made wedges in the family at bay. The stronger a family is, the stronger each individual member has the potential to be. And each member is important. Parents as teachers and mentors, but kids can play that role as well. My kids have taught me countless ways how to be … better.
So once your stockings are hung by the chimney with care, and you have sufficiently decked your halls, turn your attention to those that you love the most in this world. Don’t wait for an Ebenezer Scrooge moment to tell you what’s important in life. You already know. Start today. Start proactively checking off that Christmas list so that you can carve out time to just be together with your family and feel the spirit of the season like you’ve never felt it before. Because if there is joy in your home, there will be a lot more Joy to the World.