Advent is moving forward with momentum, but I guess that isn’t something new, is it? Once I found out my beloved season would be cut short by a whole week I knew I needed to be intentional this year.
I was heard on several occasions in September and October lamenting to my husband that I was already running out of time. Back then, it was about Christmas gift shopping and that was my focus. I wanted to go back to my old ways from a few years back where most of the gift purchases were complete by the beginning of Advent. I knew that for me, the stores and crowds were a trigger point for stress in years past. I’ve also found that online shopping and having gifts delivered to my door cuts down on overspending as well.
Having the opportunity just to pop in the store only for needed family essentials these last couple of weeks has been helpful in letting myself settle into the season differently. Yes, there still was the decorating and the gift wrapping along with baking, but those things could be taken in stride more easily on days at home that allowed more time to do them.
I also discovered that when I have had to make those quick stops I was more aware of all the “stuff” that surrounded me and sent me into sensory overload. I’ve done most of the errands on solo trips, so it allowed me to notice more without my own children to manage. My eyes saw the overstocked shelves, along with extra displays of “things” to fill stockings and gift bags. My ears heard squabbling siblings, disgruntled parents and bickering spouses disputing gifts and money.
My heart felt sad and heavy. In those overcrowded stores, we were all bombarded with ideas and things and stuff while we whizzed past others in what felt like cart wars to get in to the shortest check out lane. We’re all searching, preoccupied and overwhelmed. What are we looking for? Maybe happiness, joy, peace or satisfaction of some kind.
And we’re all missing it.
We’re preparing. We are once again on a journey to a manger where an infant is born to save us all. Humbly and simply, He was born. We tend to miss the message in the flurry of activity that the post-Thanksgiving weeks bring to our calendars.
How can we make these last days of Advent count? How can we settle in, even for a few moments each day, to discover the true meaning of Advent? Who needs us this Advent? We are surrounded in this world with so many human beings who do not need some-thing, but some-one. How about those elderly who are alone and without family to visit them? The neighbor who is not able to bake on their own any more, but may appreciate the cookies? The family at church who is mourning through their first Christmas without a loved one? Or your own family member whom you struggle most to love?
All is not lost. There’s still time. Where can you spread joy, peace, comfort and love as a gift to the infant Jesus?