Advent is upon us and I'm giving up the crazy in favor of the quiet this year. I'm trying my very hardest to get my shopping done by December 1 so I can spend the weeks leading up to Christmas actually focused on Christmas and not perusing sale ads or fighting traffic at the mall. Something important is coming and I don't want to miss it.
I've come to the point in my life where I don't want any more peppermint scented candles or Christmas albums. I don't need the latest electronics or fancy table linens or more kitchen gadgets. I'm content with my current collection of stuff. I feel no desire to get my kids involved in making up elaborate gift lists for Santa. I'm tired of counting gifts and tallying receipts to ensure everyone gets a fair allotment of presents. I guess I'm sort of done with defining Christmas by what goes under the tree.
That's not to say that we won't be having gifts. Because we will. My kids will not be deprived. The stockings will be stuffed. New toys will arrive. I'll still try to buy some smiles with whatever latest and greatest goodies Amazon is pushing on Cyber Monday.
But this year I'm making room for the silence. I'm finishing up my shopping early so I don't have to think about it during the season of Advent. This year I will focus on the stillness of the season not stressing over the sales. I'll be waiting and watching for the miracle in a manger and not distracted by the toy promising the elusive miracle of "Hours of entertainment."
I think these actions are bold in this day and age. I can almost hear the whispers of "Bah Humbug." What is Christmas without long, late-night trips to the mall hunting for the perfect gifts??
Here's what it is.
My Christmas season will be time at home to sit by the fire or read a book or bake some cookies. It will be accepting invitations to Christmas parties or holiday play dates and enjoying them as gifts of time with friends. It's saying "Yes" to coordinating the spontaneous Christmas pageant at our church and feeling good about the commitment, not stressed or frazzled. It's saying "No" to other commitments and feeling fine about setting limits and preserving my sanity. It's going to a concert with my husband in lieu of buying each other gifts because we know that quality time together is more precious than anything we could wrap and put under the tree. It's deliberate time focused on the season as God created it, not as the TV commercials would have me define it.
If we're overwhelmed by all the "to do" items that come this time of year, perhaps it's time to take a step back. Maybe the things we do during Advent really can be enjoyable if we can reorganize our time and our priorities. We don't have to say "Yes" to everything. We don't have to spend hundreds of dollars to put a smile on our kids' faces. Christmas can be merry and bright all by itself. If only we can be brave enough to open ourselves to the miracle.
A little more "Yes" to the things that make you feel peace.
A little more "No" to the things that deplete you.
Give up on buying happiness. Buy into the promise that THE perfect gift has already been given.
Rejoice. Receive Him.