Advent Vs. Christmas
We had a tremendously busy December. Oh wait, I think I've told you that
already. But, I'm thinking that perhaps you may not understand that this was a
different busy than your run of the mill regular busy Christmas season. It was
SUPER busy on top of the already busy. Hmm, I may have already told you that
What I haven't told you is the little lesson God gave me along the way. I have these weird, emotional panic moments during the holiday season. They usually happen when I slow down for a moment and enjoy the tree or the Nativity set or some hot chocolate. Suddenly, I see how fast the season is going and I loathe to think that I'm missing it because I'm too busy preparing for it.
A relaxing holiday season during this time of my life is about as elusive as a good half marathon. I prep for it, see myself succeeding and performing well, but it rarely turns out that way. The problem is that I can't get that image of myself racing with great speed out of my head. Similarly, I have this picture of myself sitting in this huge ski lodge at Christmas time, watching the fire burn without a care in the world. I swear, one day, I'm going to make this happen. Ah, but I digress.
Back to the lesson.
So I'm in my normal panic moment when I hear this small voice remind me, "It's Advent, not Christmas."
Um, duh. I can hear you thinking. Really, I can. You're thinking, this is not rocket science. Crazy part is that I agree with you.
However, society, and well, most of the world beg to differ. The Christmas stuff goes up in the stores after Halloween or even before that. Then they spend the next few months shoving it down our throats. Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas...just not before Thanksgiving for goodness sakes.
In the Catholic Church, Advent begins on the Sunday nearest the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (November 30) and lasts through four Sundays. It changes from year to year but is always around four weeks long. It is a season for us to focus on getting ready for the birth of Christ. In fact, our priests wear purple, the color of preparation, during this season.
If you walk into a Catholic church during the month of December before Christmas Eve, you will be hard pressed to find any Christmas decorations. Most churches don't decorate until the day before Christmas Eve. On the other hand, the actual Christmas season in the church doesn't end until the Baptism of the Lord, which is the Sunday following Epiphany. We Catholics love a good celebration!
It wasn't until this simple word this year that I began to understand the whole thing as I think it should be.
Advent is preparation. Preparation is not celebration. Preparation is the work it takes in order to make the celebration possible. When God reminded me of this, it allowed me to chill out a bit. I can do this, I told myself. I'm not missing Christmas, I'm preparing for it.
It's the weeks following Christmas that allow time to relax and truly celebrate the season. Doesn't that make more sense than the way we're told Christmas "ought" to be? I love that my faith allows me the opportunity to relish the wonder of this joyous season. It gives me time in the aftermath of all the preparation to enjoy the hard work I put in. I love that!
Now if you'll excuse me, I have a Christmas tree to take down.