It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…
Actually, it really is. I’m not just saying that to be all witty. I’ve got the tree up and decorated. The Advent calendar is hanging on the wall, and the four-year-old has put the correct number of ornaments on for each night. I’ve draped the nets of LED lights on the bushes in front of the house, and I even hung a string of lights around the front door. (You should have seen me out there with the stepstool, the nails and the hammer. Just call me Bob Vela.) The stockings have been hung by the chimney with care, and they are accented by a lovely fake garland and lights. I even put Christmas towels and Christmas soap in the guest bathroom. I’ve done almost all of my shopping and stashing. (Um, don’t look in the hall closet. ‘kthankxbye.) I have bellowed “Good King Wenceslas” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman” at high volume in the shower, and I’ve crooned “Silent Night” to my infant son in the dim light before bedtime.
And I’ve done a fair amount of lecturing my elder son about how Christmas is not all about getting gifts. (That could be its own blog post. In fact, check back later at three-peas-in-a-pod.blogspot.com. It may become one.)
I’m feeling pretty good about being ready for Christmas this year. The only two things I haven’t done so far are 1) mail the presents that I bought for my family and 2) tackle the Christmas cards. It would be extremely out of character, however, for me to have done either one of those things this early in December. If I ever tell you that I’ve finished my cards and it’s only something obscenely early like Dec. 5, you will know that I have been body snatched. Don’t let me out of your sight. Call the authorities. Don’t make any sudden movements.
The only other thing that I haven’t done is really prepare myself, emotionally and spiritually speaking. In the church, we speak of Advent as the time of preparation. Solemn, yet hopeful, preparation for the birth of Christ. We light candles in anticipation, and we sing ages-old carols in preparation. Well, I’ve done some candle-lighting, and I’ve done some carol-singing, but I don’t feel like I’ve done much solitary contemplation to prepare my heart for this time. It’s hard to find quiet time when I have the energy to do so, I’ve discovered. When the day is done, and the kids are in bed, and I finally have some down time, usually I’m so exhausted that I’m more likely to fall asleep than find myself totally immersed in prayer. If I shut my eyes, all bets are off, in other words.
It’s so easy to get distracted. There are the good things to get distracted by, but there are also the not-so-good things. I’ve been rolling my eyes a lot at the people who insist that there is a “war on Christmas.” They angrily accuse others of taking the “Christ” out of “Christmas” and making Christmas into a meaningless, selfish orgy of consumerism. Um, have you looked inward, folks? Are you so concerned with others that you’re not preparing yourself for Christmas? Are you so concerned about others dropping a huge wad of cash at the mall that you’re not contemplating the joy that is heralded by the coming of Jesus? Is that a big old stick in your eye? Are you doing anything to help people out in the name of Christ during this Christmas season? Or are you expending all your energy in misplaced anger?
Now you know I’m not going to get all evangelical on you. It’s not my style. But I think we could all do a little more with more introspection into what Christmas means, really means, for those of us who are Christians. It’s definitely true for me. So my goal from now on is to find a few minutes, here and there, to prepare. To think and pray. To find meaning in the celebration–and to not just get distracted by the pretty lights and bows and cookies. Okay, I can’t promise that I won’t get distracted by the cookies. But I am going to try harder to remember what this all means. I am going to find a few moments here and there, to center myself, to reflect, to pray and…to be joyful. To prepare.