December came fast this year, on the heels of a particularly busy November.  Last month started with Shane recovering from a nasty bike accident (he’s ok now, but dang it if that didn’t scare the bejeezus out of me!); and then we bought a new car, which was exciting but also laden with that feeling of anxiety that naturally comes with any five-figure purchase; and then we decided to move forward with finally hiring someone to tear out our filthy downstairs carpet and lay new tile, which spiraled into a whole painting/plumbing/cleaning frenzy, complete with about 14 trips to Home Depot; and Shane’s job has kicked into overdrive, and Juliette’s been, well, two, and time’s flying by at warp speed.

So I panicked for a moment when I sat in church last Sunday and realized that Advent had already started (in November, no less!), as I hadn’t yet given the season much thought, other than a vague resolution to make it incredibly meaningful.  Whoops.  My mind raced as I wrestled with what I thought Advent 2015 should look like.  I felt called to grieve deeply and intentionally for the tragedy and violence that seems to be engulfing our world, while also keeping my eyes fixed on the hope of God’s promise.  I was struck that this is the year that Juliette needs to come to a true understanding of the meaning of Christmas (she knows the words “baby” and “donkey” and “star”, so she must be ready, right?!).  And of course, we needed to exemplify the utmost selflessness and generosity and warmth.  The pressure was on!

But after browsing Pinterest for “toddler advent activities” and determining that Jules and I wouldn’t be making our own nativity scene from popsicle sticks and quilting squares, and feeling completely overwhelmed by the challenge of finding a rhythm of meditation that adequately acknowledges the dark of the world and the light of God, I settled on keeping it simple.  We’re reading the Christmas story to Juliette every night and have added Away In A Manger to our rotation of bedtime lullabies.  I’ve opened up my dusty prayer journal and am spending a few minutes by the light of the tree each evening, putting words to both my grief and my gratitude.

We’re also pointing wildly and shouting “CHRISTMAS LIIIIIIIIGHTS!” every time we pass a decked-out house, reveling in Juliette’s unabated excitement over the gaudiest of displays.  We’re listening to A Charlie Brown Christmas during marathon Lego sessions.  I’m queuing up my holiday movie watchlist and digging my knitting needles out of the closet.  We’re stocking our fridge with eggnog (and our liquor cabinet with brandy).  We’re taking a breath, entering this season of anticipation with a quiet joy.

Advent, I’m so glad you’re here.

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