First of all, it’s not because I use this reminder to remember that “Jesus, the Son of God, has come to earth to redeem us all from our sins.” Although, this is a beautiful reminder, it’s not exactly what I think when I see the “Christmas, Get it On Sale Now” when I walk into K-mart.
The reason I don’t mind the early onset of Christmas is also not because I’m one of those “Christmas” people. Do you know who I’m talking about? Maybe you are one? The “Christmas” people, and my mother-in-law is one, just love everything about the season and can’t wait to decorate for it, bake for it, buy for it. They’ve got their spouse out in the yard hanging lights, putting out reindeer, snowmen, wreaths, candles, and garlands. . .everywhere. Inside, they’ve got the cinnamon potpourri cooking and holiday candles burning and just as many decorations.
No, I’m not a “Christmas” person. In fact, I wait until just a few days before Christmas to put up our tree.
The only reason—and it’s the only reason I can find, for appreciating the early warning that “Christmas is coming in 2 Months!” is so that I can get a jump on my pre-Advent preparations.
That’s it. I wish the stores and radios, instead of Christmas banners and carols, would announce, “Hey, everyone, it’s time to do a little pre-Advent preparation!”
So when I walk into my K-mart to buy my daughter a new leotard for her ballet class, instead of seeing red and green Christmas Sale banners, I would see a little purple and a subtle message that “After Thanksgiving, it’s going to be Advent.”
And it’s not that Advent needs a lot of preparation. Actually preparing for Advent is like an oxymoron. IT IS the time of preparation for Christmas. However, with my busy, busy family, in order for us to slow down, and intentionally use Advent to prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ, I need to do a little preparation for this.
Here are 3 Things that I have found to be very helpful to “Prepare” for Advent. (Yes, that oxymoron, again)
1) Do a good cleaning and decluttering. Start now and finish after Thanksgiving. Put away all of those fall decorations. Maybe, temporarily get rid of some of your other house decorations and pictures, go for something more stark, and minimal. And in the midst of this--
2) Get an Advent Wreath. You’ll need 3 purple candles, and one pink one—maybe some back-ups if they tend to get too small. (Order those on Amazon, right now, if you are not going to get a chance to go to your local Catholic Book Store.) Having some kind of devotional book to read every night is nice, but not crucial. Just making a better effort to sit down together at a meal is a big effort for many of us. You simply need to light the candles and sit in silence for a few minutes. Simple--yet so effective.
3) And finally, do all of your shopping. Yes, I swear by this one. Nothing is more distracting during Advent than rushing around in the Mall or frantically shopping for deals online. Starting with your St. Nick shoe fillers, make your list of everyone you have to buy for and start checking it off. I, of course, recommend shortening this list every year and being very creative with your gift-giving. Go for gifts of experience and time. Don’t be afraid to appear Scrooge-like or stingy. Yes, be generous, but not materially—unless it’s to people who need material goods.
So next time you are in the grocery store and you hear that Christmas tune and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, use that as a reminder to help your family get on the right track to celebrate a beautiful Advent together.