This morning after Mass, the orange and yellow flowers were taken from the altar, and a host of volunteers began to ready the church in evergreens, purple, and pink to usher in the season of Advent.
I always love Advent, but this year it’s especially exciting. With a little boy to turn one just days before Christmas, and the countdown until my sister-in-law and two brothers-in-law fly in for the holiday, there is much joyful expectation building in our house. Tomorrow we will take out the outdoor Christmas decorations and Advent wreath and calendar, and deck our halls inside and out. I love that Advent starts on December 1 this year, so seasonal and liturgical calendar are perfectly synched.
It’s time to start watching my favorite Christmas movies and to try out a dairy-free hot cocoa recipe I came across recently. Some shopping is already finished, and my mind is spinning with plans for other thoughtful tokens of love and gratitude. This year, it really does feel like the most wonderful time of the year!
Jacob came to me this morning and asked if I knew the “Rejoice” song. Then he started singing the chorus of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” which John had clearly just taught him. Little kids’ pleasure at traditions like these are contagious, but it also makes me very aware that I really better believe what I’m teaching my kids. Christmas runs deeper than Elf and ornaments, and I need to figure out how I’m going to make time to ready my heart, and my kids’ as well.
I think some of that this year will be remembering that this is not a joyful time for everyone. People everywhere are dealing with loss, pain, suffering, and loneliness. We are very blessed, and we have the joyful obligation to share those gifts with others. How can we include that in our prayer, our decorating, our gift-giving?
Thanksgiving might have passed already, but we celebrate the Eucharist every day, and that word means “thanksgiving.” For my heart especially, thanks is what I need to give most this year.