Is it my imagination or is Christmas coming earlier every year? The Great Pumpkin had not even appeared before – boom! – here comes Santa Claus. It seems that stores just can’t get the bows, ribbons, and wreaths on the shelves fast enough.
I have found myself increasingly irritated by this pre-loading of Christmas trappings and holiday shopping – a distinctly un-Christmas-y mood to be in. And so this year I made it my particular goal to let the carols, cookies, and consumerism wash over me without care and instead cultivate the simplicity and serenity of Advent.
I fell back in love with Advent A few years ago, that incremental journey towards Christmas. Its wreath of winter greens and candlelight are simultaneously a meditation on waiting and a hint of what is to come. Even as I grocery shop amidst jingle bells and “ho ho hos,” Advent calms my spirit. I find myself reflecting more deeply on the intangible gifts of heart and hand to share with family, friends, and strangers. I begin to savor and anticipate more deeply Christmas itself, including the symbols that eventually will adorn our home – greens, a tree, and the three kings who will make a slow journey around the circumference of the living room until they arrive at the mantle’s crèche on Epiphany.
For me, Advent practices of stillness and simplicity allow me to take in more fully the love and light at the heart of Christmas.
And so, may you find peace amidst the too-often frenetic energy of these December days, and may the love and light of this season be with you today and always.