No, I am not talking about the little calendar that sits on your shelf! Instead, I am talking about Advent, the time that is part of the Christian liturgical calendar. Now if you aren’t Christian, I hope you will still take the time to read today’s musings. This is not written just for Christians; Advent is a time that I believe we can all take something from.
But before I write any further, I want to acknowledge that for many this Christmas will be different, especially given the challenges the world has faced this year. I also want to acknowledge those who find Christmas a difficult time. I want to let you know that my writings are not meant to gloss over your pain or hurt. My hope is that this Christmas you will find a small place of peace.
Advent begins on the Fourth Sunday before Christmas, and each week has a theme.
These can vary depending on your church. The ones I am familiar with are Hope, Peace, Love and Joy. Each week we light a candle and reflect on the theme for the week. The word advent comes from the Latin ‘adventus’, meaning coming or arrival. It is seen as a deliberate time of expectation, of waiting and preparation, for the arrival of the Christ Child. That sounds a lot like Christmas to me.
Instead, for most of us, it’s a time when instead of slowing down you speed up until it seems like you are moving at the speed of light. There is the decorating, buying presents, planning menus, get-togethers, and the school socials. Then there are the questions. Are you organised, have you started/finished your Christmas shopping, what are you doing for Christmas, have you put your tree up yet, are you going away?
You are on a countdown to a brief deadline, a window of just one day. It is almost like an Apollo mission with a reentry window that has no room for error.
Facebook ads to the flurry! You see other people’s pictures of gatherings, colour matched trees, beautifully wrapped gifts, and believe you have to up the ante and do better. Then you blink, and before you know it, you are picking up the paper, packing up the tree and taking down the Christmas lights and it’s all over for another year.
But what if you approached the Christmas countdown differently this year? What if, like a child opening the advent calendar, you decided to savour each moment. Not sure of what is going to be behind the door of each day, and approaching it with anticipation. Appreciating the good and the challenging.
Do you know I still remember the year that my mum made a pavlova.
It was one of her first attempts, and I could have sold it to Goodyear, it was so rubbery!! I also remember the year I was flat on my back in the hospital. I was 12 weeks pregnant, unable to spend Christmas with my family, however even given the circumstances it was a fantastic Christmas. I don’t remember the perfect ones. I don’t remember what the tree looked like, or what I ate (unless it was rubbery pavlova). What I do remember are the Christmas’s filled with love, laughter, and family.
This Christmas, what if you slowed down? What if you made a conscious choice to see it not as a time of preparation for one crazy day, but a time of peace hope love and joy? What if it became a time of reflection, gratitude and connection, not only with those you love but also the world?
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, I am going to share my thoughts on the themes of advent. My hope for you this Christmas is that it is a time of reflection, filled with hope, peace, love, joy and wonder.