While grocery shopping last week, John and I heard Christmas carols playing. I could hardly believe it. For a moment, I felt annoyed. Christmas carols during the first week in November? Then, my annoyance turned to gratitude. I realized that we have time now to make sure that we create the kind of Advent and Christmas that we really want. If we begin to take time to plan now, we can have an Advent season that will lead us to a joyful Christmas.
It’s easy to get caught up in the shopping frenzy that leads up to Christmas. Money spent on presents, food, beverages and decorations can easily turn the holy season of Advent into a time of resentment and regret. Even the fun aspects of preparing for Christmas can become overwhelming obligations if we let ourselves get caught up in the avalanche of preparations. But, if we are deliberate and thoughtful about which Advent traditions mean the most to us and which are less essential, we can focus our time and energy on the things that are most important.
We want to honor everyone in the family’s wishes, so we need to take the time to ask each person in the family for input. What are the foods that make Advent, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day special for each of us? If we want to have any family activities, now is the time to pick dates when everyone is available. If we want to make any gifts, it’s time to start working on them. If prayer time is important, we need to find time to fit meaningful prayer into our busy schedules. By determining what is essential to our Advent, what we would like to do if time and money allow, and what Advent traditions mean so little that we won’t miss them, we can build an Advent that is truly joyful for our family.