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