I'm not a fan of Christmas.
Actually, that's not true. It's the rampant commercialism and extra busyness that make me a curmudgeon during the holidays. I've never been able to reconcile buying unnecessary gifts for too many people, dashing to holiday parties with the obligatory dish to share and a hostess gift, or finding just the right ugly sweater for the annual office party, all in the name of celebrating the birth of our Savior. Frankly, I'm exhausted just thinking about what lies ahead next month.
Except for one simple, little tradition. Advent. More specifically, the Advent calendar.
Ever since I can remember, I have loved the anticipation of breaking the perforated seal on each day's box to reveal a new surprise. Typically, it's a holiday image. If you're lucky, it might be a piece of chocolate too. Either way, Advent calendars help us pay attention during our annual month-long pilgrimage to Bethlehem.
Author Ann Voskamp (One Thousand Gifts and The Greatest Gift) says she creates a Jesse Tree with her family each year. Similar to an Advent calendar, it helps her family tell the Christmas story, starting all the way back in Genesis until Jesus' birth. Nicole Unice talks about the surprising gifts we experience as we anticipate Christ's birth, and Kelli Trujillo pays homage to the Advent calendar with her TCW exclusive devotional. I hope you love the anticipation and delight of discovering each day's surprises as much as I do! (We have Mary Bellus, our Art Director, to thank for this wonderful creation).
Isn't that what Advent's about anyway— anticipation and delight?
I've been a Christian a long time, so some years it's hard to muster up a child-like sense of wonder about Jesus' birth. We know the story by heart: Mary and Joseph schlepped across the desert to register their names for the census, she went into labor, they couldn't find a room, she gave birth in a barn. Yawn.
But it's a story that should never get old, and Advent helps keep it fresh. It's the antidote to our instant gratification world. I invite you to make something as simple as a calendar, a Jesse Tree, or the lighting of Advent candles an object lesson in waiting with wonder, whether you're 5 or 50.
Blessings as you wait in glorious expectation!
Marian V. Liautaud