Advent Respite

Before I even opened my eyes this morning, I crossed things off my list: Christmas cards addressed and mailed; gifts mailed; local gifts purchased; St. Nicholas Day festivities finished; the feast of the Immaculate Conception Mass, teatime and craft; Our Lady of Guadalupe meal, craft and dessert; gingerbread day; St. Lucy’s breakfast; Gaudete Sunday dinner and special dessert. There was still wrapping and baking and grocery shopping and cooking to do. It was Monday morning, a little more than halfway through Advent.

Advent is a busy time of the year. It doesn’t stress me out the way it did years ago. We have our traditions and they change only slightly from year to year, so I don’t have the stress of trying to devise a plan or learn something new. Instead, the plans are the same from one Advent to the next and I simply implement them.

Since we home-school, I integrate our academics to dovetail with the time of the liturgical year and much of our schoolwork overlaps with our domestic church. Even though I’m not stressed about the “how-to,” I’m still tired. There’s an awful lot to do.

This year, I’m trying to do all the usual things while recovering from a traumatic birth and caring for an infant and putting my house back in order after an extended period of time on bedrest. It’s impossible. So, on Monday morning, I crossed a few more things off my list. I’m not going to do them.

Instead, I planned a few days of no plans. I determined to drink copious amounts of peppermint tea and read every Christmas picture book we own to any child in my house who will listen. And I resolved to take some time for me.

It’s “pink week” in our house, the week beginning with Gaudete Sunday, when pink reminders scattered throughout our home remind us to take joy. It’s ours for the taking. Christmas isn’t supposed to be a to-do list and a credit card bill. It’s supposed to the joyful celebration of the birth of Our Savior. So, why should the month leading up to the big day be a stress-fest?

If I allow it to be a stress-fest, I will arrive at Christmas exhausted, burned out and probably sick. My neck will hurt, I will have gained unwanted weight, and I will not be joyful. All because I wanted to make things “perfect” for our celebration of Advent and Christmas. Something doesn’t add up in that equation. Some mothers might be able to burn pink and purple candles at both ends and remain cheerful and joyous and patient and kind throughout the month of December. I am not one of them.

I need to rest. I need fairly large chunks of time alone with the Word of God and my prayers. I need to drink in the message that God came to save us from our sins and to promise us everlasting joy in heaven. He also came with promises of peace on earth and good will toward men.

Those things take time and careful consideration. They take conversation and connection. And truly, they don’t require wrapping paper, tape or three cups of confectioner’s sugar. They don’t require breakneck speed or even a to-do list. Instead, they require that we are still and know that He is God, He offers joy and He calls us to take it.

Rest in Him. Rest.

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  • kirbys

    THank you, Elizabeth–I am slowly starting to realize this and crossing things off the list as well.
    We have just decided to skip the Christmas cards, as we will be sending out baby announcements and family photos in 2 months! I will be reading those Christmas books to the little ones tomorrow instead, and making only one or two batches of cookies. And we don’t need to pull out ALL of the ornaments and decorations.

    Blessed Advent and Christmas!!