Date: November 25, 2020
By: Angela A.
Just recently, as my husband and I were driving, I was hit with a jolt of excitement at the sight of glistening snow and the feeling of chilly air - signs that my favourite time of the year is approaching. I caught myself before I was able to finish blurting out, "IT FEELS LIKE CHRISTMAS!"I turned to my husband, and asked, "Why is it that Christmas was the first thing that came to mind? Why not Advent?"
In our excitement for Christmas, how often do we forget to focus on the preceding season of Advent? You know, those four weeks leading up to Christmas in which we prepare for the coming of our Saviour with hopeful anticipation?
Both my husband and I come from an ethnic background in which the count down to Christmas begins in September. Needless to say, Advent did not hold much significance throughout my upbringing. The weeks, even days, leading up to Christmas consisted of hurriedly shopping for presents, delightfully taking on the role of gift-wrapper, baking last minute goodies, and restraining myself from scouting out the possible places where my parents hid my presents.
During my late adolescent and early adult years, I began to realize that something was lacking when the joy and wonder of "the most wonderful time of the year" dissipated just as quickly as Christmas Day crept up and passed. It did not take long to discover that it was because I did not prioritize preparing my heart and home for the arrival of our Lord. Instead, I was allowing myself to fall prey to pressures that society depicts the holiday season to be about: hustle and bustle, commercialization, and consumerism.
When my husband and I got married, we decided that it was important for us to incorporate Advent (and Christmas) traditions into our own family home. Over the years, these are some of the traditions that we have adopted:
· The first tradition we adopted was displaying a Nativity scene. We place Baby Jesus in the manger after Christmas Vigil, and the Three Wise Men journey closer each day, joining on the Feast of the Epiphany.
· While we have always waited until the 1st Sunday of Advent to set up a Christmas tree, we incorporated a new tradition last year: leaving the tree bare until Christmas Day as a simple reminder of the bare hearts we offer to the Christ Child at His birth.
· Last year was the first year we made use of an Advent wreath in our home. Before dinner each night, we light the appropriate candle(s) on the wreath and recite the corresponding readings to remind us of hope, peace, joy, and love.
· All decorations are left up until The Baptism of our Lord, marking the end of the Christmas season.
During the season of Advent, it is not uncommon for my husband and I to experience increased anxiety, resentment, anger, and frustration. For the seven-and-a-half years of our marriage, we have been journeying through infertility, and Advent is often a painful reminder of what we do not have. But it is an even greater reminder that when we practice traditions to fully immerse ourselves in the season of hope and joyful waiting, the gift we receive is all the more meaningful. As we wait in hopeful anticipation of the Christ Child, we gain strength and encouragement to continue to wait in hopeful anticipation of a child of our own.
Perhaps you are in your own season of waiting - for a clear calling to a particular vocation, a career opportunity, or much like us, a child of your own. Whatever it is you are waiting for, do not be discouraged.
May we never forget that there is joy in the waiting, and may we rejoice when we receive our gift.