I grew up in an abusive home.
Each Christmas my parents made us wait until the actual day of Christmas to open up our gifts. I know, it’s horrifying even to think about it these many years later.
Truth be told, after much begging and pleading (it was a little game we played), the folks would always relent and let us open one gift on Christmas Eve.
Walking by the tree with the presents tucked underneath, knowing I couldn’t get my grubby little paws on them until Christmas was nearly maddening. Not so maddening I’d try to peak, that was a sure way to get nothing. Or at least so I was threatened and believed.
Waiting for Christmas.
Seems like such a strange concept, but let me spare you a rant about the commercialization of Christmas, about the ways we have missed the meaning and power of the miracle of Jesus’ birth, about the ways I sing the songs and do the dance and find myself in January with a Jesus hangover.
Instead, I’m thinking about the ways in which we can personally reclaim the anticipation of Christmas, the building excitement as we move closer to Christmas Day. Could I slow down enough to spend some time with Christ this year? Could you?
This is at least one purpose of Advent.
Advent as waiting. Advent as drawing near. Advent as preparation.
Advent is not the focus of any holiday special or the focus of a line of greeting cards. It is counter-cultural. To wait is to delay. To put off. To forego for a time. I struggle with these concepts and have even greater difficultly living them. Self-denial is not popular or easy to practice.
And Advent is much bigger than waiting to open presents on Christmas. It is a waiting for Jesus’ birth and for his long-awaited return.
My drive for instant gratification is in tension with this crazy Advent idea.
Maybe Advent makes more sense to those who aren’t waiting to open gifts, or perform during a Christmas Eve candlelight extravaganza, but who are waiting for justice, love, mercy. Those who don’t look forward to opening up a new video game, but who eagerly await the day when they will hunger no more; when water will be abundant, clean and safe to drink; when wars cease and preventable disease stops claiming lives.
So in the spirit of such an Advent hope. I share a few resources you may or may not know about. May Advent be all it can be so Christmas can be more than I have made it.
Life is better together,
Find your own. Wait. Anticipate. Celebrate.