Advent is my favorite season. Yes, I prefer to call it Advent rather than just Christmas because as beautiful as Christmas is, it is just one day. Whereas I see Advent as a beautiful journey to explore the wait for the Messiah.
But this year we are also in the season of crazy. Newborn schedules, upcoming family travel, stir crazy kids as the cold and wet weather settle in, not to mention the extreme excitement of this time of year. (and we don’t even do Santa or Elf on the Shelf).
But I am determined to continue celebrating the season anyway. The season of having a tiny baby boy at Christmas. The season of having a three year old and six year old so excited for the holidays that their small bodies might explode with sheer adrenaline. (I could do without the runny noses, but that season seems to have arrived as well).
So I break up yet another fight before the Christmas tree gets knocked down and try to coax the baby to eat and sleep amid the noise and chaos, I am reminded of the first Christmas. The unwanted travel, even though they probably got to visit with family as a side affect of being taxed. I often feel like I’m being taxed this time of year, if not just in the yearly insurance premium increase and worries about whether there will be a wage increase to match, but the portion of my time, money and energy that are taken by holiday activities. Some of them are things I love, others are not. But they all cost me something.
The noise of the human traffic, and the stable probably full of animals. I never understood pictures of a stable with a single donkey and a cow or sheep. If the inn was full, chances are the stable was too. Where else were all the pack animals being housed? I was probably not quiet, and certainly not clean or peaceful. So as I wipe another snotty nose, lament at the stickiness of my kitchen floor (even though I just mopped) and feel as though my house is getting smaller by the second I can relate, at least in part related to Mary and Joseph, in the stable with a newborn. (At least when we travel to visit family we get to stay in a clean hotel that offers free breakfast).
So even in my difficulties and struggles, or perhaps even more because of them, I can experience God this Christmas. He was born into this same world of busy, dirt and tired and yet he was found and worshipped. May I learn to join the shepherds and the wise men, as I stand aside and take notice that a Savior has been born to us.
If your family is new to exploring Advent, may I recommend my own devotional? I wrote As We Wait as a response to my mother who loves Advent but could no longer find a devotional she liked. As it turns out, she wasn’t the only one. It is one of the things I am most proud to have written and I find new inspiration and comfort in it each year. (I know it sounds weird to experience that with your own writing, but with enough time and distance, I sometimes forget that the words are mine and enjoy them again.)