It wasn’t long ago that my grown children were little people. Being the overachiever that is in my DNA, I practically killed myself trying to do all the things that could possibly be done for Christmas. Think multiple themed trees, white chocolate mix made in a 30-gallon bag, packages wrapped like the magazines, homemade decorations that would put HGTV to shame, family newsletter to 200, decorating the house like we were on the tour of homes, and daily runs to every department store for who-knows-what.
I wanted something different. So I sat with the family at dinner before Thanksgiving weekend when my little people were in middle school and asked a few questions:
“What if we did the season differently this year?” Heads started to nod in affirmation.
“What if we each chose three things that made the season special this year and did only those?” “What three things would you choose?” Instantly, each one knew what they wanted, and thankfully a couple things made two or more lists: Lemon cake on Christmas Eve, Church on Christmas Eve, wood delivered for a fire in the fireplace, one tree with all the ornaments they’ve made over the years, presents opened on Christmas Eve with stockings on Christmas morning, and gumbo for Christmas day.
We ask the question again each year and it pretty much stays the same. We set our dates for parties or special events before Thanksgiving and say, “No thanks” to the rest. This exercise, along with a couple of spiritual disciplines, has made the season Advent, and not Christmas for us. We discuss it, we plan it out, and guard ourselves from being sucked into the chaos.
A wise pastor shared a message one year about Advent being a season of readiness and anticipation of Jesus being born. I wondered. What if we lived out the season as if Jesus chose to come back during this time? What would He find in me and mine? Where would He find me and mine? Am I ready for His return or for ‘it all to be over with?’
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” Matthews 24:42