The waiting season

by Lesley on November 19, 2013 · 11 comments

in christmas

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Two days after Halloween I ventured to the mall for a quick trip to the Benefit makeup counter. It was All Saints Day, and the sales girls applied their makeup to look like zombies and dead people. Their application was ugly but impressive.

I’d brought Anna with me to the mall and she made no comment on the zombie makeup (thankfully) but quickly pointed out glittery trees here, there, and everywhere. She was distracted by their beauty, but I was distracted by their timing. Why are the trees up already?! It was just Halloween!

The trees used to come out the day after Thanksgiving, until one year they started coming out a week before Thanksgiving, and then earlier and earlier and earlier until Halloween became the official marker for holiday madness to begin.

I love Christmas–as many Americans do–but I’ve never been one to start the season early. To me, part of the magic of the season is that it only takes place for 30 ish quick days each year. I’m a rule follower, and just like dessert at breakfast always makes me feel guilty, Christmas on November 1st doesn’t sit right in my soul.

But as I paid my bill and glanced around the makeup department again, the contrast between zombie makeup and beautiful trees made me better understand our eagerness to welcome Christmas. While Halloween certainly has its fun elements, the holiday is all about death and darkness. Is it any wonder that we can’t wait for the rush of song and sparkle?

And yet Christmas is so much more than what our society tries to sell us. For those of us who believe in Christ, this time of year is all about the waiting. 

In Enuma Okoro’s book Silence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent, she writes, “Advent is a season in which we are reminded that God invites us to listen, dwell, wait and trust in communion with one another…the hard work of Advent reflection and waiting is mingled with the gift of time and space to dream new dreams, to bathe in pools of hope, and to stretch the canvas of our imagination wide enough for God to paint God’s own visions for our lives.” Isn’t that beautiful? 

As the holiday catalogs start arriving in my mailbox, and our neighbors’ twinkle lights go up, I, like many of you, find myself thinking about Christmas’ logistics. I’ve been scouring Pinterest for baking ideas. I’m buying gifts here and there with our “Dave Ramsey Christmas cash.” I may even sneak some eggnog into my cart at Target (although I draw the line at listening to Josh Groban’s Christmas album. He will have to wait.) Most importantly? I’m trying to be intentional about welcoming this season with space. Space to wait. Space to pray. Space to dream and rest and wonder.

Christmas is so much more than Secret Santa gifts and creating our annual holiday card and attending cookie exchange parties. It is so much more. 

There are only 12 days until Advent begins. If you’re looking for a great book to read this year I recommend Silence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent by Enuma Okoro. Also, Margaret Feinberg just released a free advent devotional I can’t wait to read. 

Please leave me a comment and tell me how you plan to WAIT on Christmas this year. Any advent traditions at your house? We’re marking advent with a new special calendar for Anna that includes some activities, verses, songs and small toys. I can’t wait to show you a few pictures once December begins.

From my archives: Staying Sane at Christmas

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11 comments
Sarahkerner
Sarahkerner

I don't normally decorate, listen to Christmas music, drink gingerbread lattes, or really do anything christmas-y until after thanksgiving.  This year I will probably be making an exception (if its not too cold) because our town Xmas tree lighting is this Saturday and it's a fun, free event that I like to take the kids to.  I am trying to cut down on presents a little bit, but my family is really into gift giving and it's hard to be the scrooge who says no.

Lindsay M
Lindsay M

I know this may sound a bit crazy, but this year, my waiting on Christmas will include the absence of decorations in my home.  In the midst of a difficult season in my life and a 1 year old child getting into everything, decorations seem more stressful than festive.  I am actively choosing to embrace simplicity in this season rather than the "shoulds"I often force myself into.  

LesleyM
LesleyM moderator

@Lindsay M Not crazy at all! You're a smart woman for knowing your limits. :) 

marisaloper
marisaloper

I'm with you...Christmas comes much too early - and I feel like thanksgiving gets run over in the process. And that seems to go completely against what Christmas is about!! I like the reminder that this is a season of waiting - and we are waiting, for that glorious day when Christ will return!

And we have advent adventures galore!! Check out my blog for what we've done in the past

tim_fall
tim_fall

I confess I started listening to Christmas music when 93.1 switched to it on Nov. 1, Lesley. I'm not one to start decorating ahead of time, but I'll go with the tunes. Then again, I also have no qualms about dessert for breakfast!

Cheers,

Tim

amylvogt
amylvogt

At this point in my life, with three young kids at home, my perspective has changed quite a bit. Everything from packing up to get out the door, cooking dinner, or taking time to enjoy the Christmas season seems to take a bit longer. Our family enjoys so many traditional ways of celebrating the season including the baking, shopping, decorating, and parties. And, there is so much more. But, we also need room to rest, reflect and dwell on Jesus. There is so much joy and so much growth in this season, and our crazy family of five just can't squeeze all that into the small month of December! So, if you catch me baking Christmas cookies in November or make note of the fact that my kids have already viewed The Polar Express AND Frosty the Snowman before Thanksgiving, just know that we are making room. Room to settle in and enjoy the time of year that we love. And, room to rest and grow. Maybe as the kids get older there will be more room for the discipline of waiting, but for now, I relish every time my kids squeal when I plug the two strings of lights in that we already have up. It will happen 45 times this year instead of 30, and I'm okay with that!

LesleyM
LesleyM moderator

@amylvogt Girl, I have always appreciated your love for the Christmas season...and while you (and Erin?!) may be my friends who welcome it earliest, I know you celebrate the season with so much intentionality and fun. I hope my post didn't read as judgy, because I certainly find myself planning for Christmas much earlier now than I did before kids, that's for sure! I hope, and maybe I should clarify, that advent is very much a time about being intentional ..and it sounds like you are doing just that! :) 

mafeinberg
mafeinberg

Lesley, so excited that you'll be joining us for Advent! Praying that God is preparing our hearts with bold expectation.

katiebrown
katiebrown

I am going to do the Jesus storybook advent readings with Isaiah. I have been looking at advent calendars and thought about making one. I made a thanksgiving one this year... Can you please tell me what calendar you are using? Did you make or buy? You can email me if you want to keep it a secret! It is hard to wait but I have restrained myself till after thanksgiving even though I have already got egg nog lattes :)

LesleyM
LesleyM moderator

@katiebrown P.S. There is also one in red...and I wouldn't care if you bought the same one! Land of Nod has so many cute ones...and so does PB Kids.