As a defense against the bombast and commercialism and noise and hyperbole, I’d been toying with the idea of doing as little as possible to prepare for Christmas. Just the bare minimum, just enough so people don’t think I’m lazy.
I don’t need more to do. I don’t have time or energy to spare. I don’t have extra money to spend. Mostly, I don’t want to expend all that time, energy and money, only to be disappointed when Christmas fails to deliver the promised magic.
Hauling all that stuff out of the attic, when I’m just going to put it back a month later. Baking dozens of cookies, when I don’t personally eat sugar. Deciding who should get a present, and who should get a card; long lists that need to be checked off, one by one by one. None of it was making sense to me, in my present frame of mind.
As often happens, I read something that change my thinking. My friend Janelle Ross is writing a lovely series for Advent on her blog My Men and Me, and her gentle thoughts pierced through my armor of apathy. I’ve been looking at Advent as an endless series of obligations, when really it is a gift. I’ve traded the thrill of hope for managed expectations.
The season of Advent was never, ever, ever about decorations or cookies or wrapping paper or any of that (although there is nothing wrong with any of those things.) It’s not about preparing my house. It’s about preparing my heart.
I live as if disaster were imminent. Without attachment or expectation or even much hope. Because if you don’t hope for much you can never be disappointed. I am completely ready for the zombie apocalypse or a tsunami, should one land on Chantilly, Virginia. I have martial arts training and provisions and an escape plan mapped out in my mind. But I’m not ready for the birth of the Savior.
So I decided to see Advent in a different light. Forget about the competition for the most beautiful, perfect Christmas. This is a time to get ready for the miracle of God coming to earth to rescue us from sin. It is a time for generosity and welcoming, a time to gather in. Time to shake off my weariness and embrace hope.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
And it’s not about me. My family has their own expectations about Christmas that I need to honor. I asked Joe which Christmas decorations he wanted to put up. He thought for a moment. “Well, a tree for sure. The nutcrackers on the mantle. The skating pond would be nice.”
Joe set up the miniature skating pond with the skaters that glide around on a magnetic track. Marie and I got a tree, and Hubs set it up in the family room. Strung with white lights and glittery stars, the little balsam fir turned into a twinkling confection of silver and gold. Our humble home seems almost romantic, warm and dark and candle-lit. A welcoming place.
I feel hope creeping into my heart like a little mouse on quiet feet. I am almost prepared for a miracle.
Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see. C. S. Lewis
What miracle are you hoping for this Christmas? Please share in the comments, I would love to know!