by Whitney Booth
This time of year, there’s a noticeable pull to have Christmas either one way (the gift-giving, party-going, tradition-continuing way) or another (the celebrating and waiting of Advent, making room for Christ in your heart, focusing on the spiritual rather than the material way). While it would be great to restore the season with its original beautiful simplicity of celebrating the birth of the Christ child, it becomes pretty difficult—almost impossible—to isolate ourselves from the secular Christmas season that happens around us. But does it really have to be one or the other?
With Christmas approaching, we can’t deny that much of our lives is written out in lists (checked twice, of course). We make lists of the gifts we will buy, the meals we will cook, the names of friends we will invite to our festive parties, and the Christmas specials we must watch before the 25th. In what has become such a hectic time of year, preparation and list-making helps us to make it less so.
When we buy another gift and cross that off our lists, may we also embrace the spiritual practice of preparation: getting one more thing out of the way so that we can make room for the real gift of Christmas. Traditions are wonderful and there’s nothing wrong with loving that part of this season; however, what we as Christians are actually anticipating and celebrating this Advent and Christmas is the promise that comes in a tiny baby, born in a smelly barn, to bring us hope, peace, love, and joy. As we joyfully hang wreaths and cut reindeer-shaped cookies, may we do so with excitement that we can now point our attention toward what is coming.
Let’s lift one another up as we prepare ourselves for all aspects of our lives this season—the traditional and the holy—for something good that is coming. Thanks be to God.