I hate to admit this, but I’ve come to associate Advent with EPIC FAIL. (And preparing the way for the glorious birth of Christ, of course. That and EPIC FAIL.)
Every year for the past three years I’ve tried lead my family in some of the rich traditions that this beautiful part of the liturgical year offers. And every year I end up getting overwhelmed and giving up around the second Sunday, the Advent decorations peeking out from the clutter on our mantle now serving primarily as a reminder that I don’t have my act together.
As I’ve contemplated this upcoming Advent, my fourth as a Christian, I’ve realized a few of things:
- I am more easily overwhelmed than most people.
- I have four kids under age seven (well, I guess I already knew that one).
- I have very little experience with this season; neither my husband nor I celebrated it growing up.
Considering those factors, I realized that the problem is that I’m trying to do too much. Even most of the books and websites that offer “simple” suggestions for Advent are above my level right now. Keeping up with an Advent wreath, Jesse tree, countdown calendar, special daily Advent prayers, arts and crafts projects and seasonal baking projects sounds like it wouldn’t be all that much, especially when it’s spread out over a season. But it is for me. By a long shot.
A lot of you are familiar with Fly Lady, the home organization guru who advocates that people who follow her system start with “baby steps, ” i.e. doing a few extremely simple things to get your feet wet. (For example, her system will eventually lead you to an entire home makeover, but she suggests that you begin by just putting on your shoes and cleaning your sink. That’s it.)
So here’s my question for you:
What are some “baby steps” I could take to begin bringing the many traditions of Advent into my home?
The more specific, the better. And feel free to include yours, even if others have already commented. I’m sure there are other people who struggle with this, and what works for one person may not work for another.
Also, let me hasten to add that I know that all these great traditions aren’t ends in and of themselves: the goal is to bring us closer to Christ, to prepare our hearts and minds to behold the miracle of Christmas — and you can certainly do that without lighting a single Advent candle. Don’t worry, I don’t think that participating in Advent rituals will act as a magic bullet that instantly makes me holier and better prepared for Christmas.
I do think, however, that the activities of the liturgical year can point our hearts in the right direction (I often think of it as breathing with the Body of Christ); and I think that the rhythmic celebrations of the different seasons are deeply comforting and enriching for children. So it is important to me to make Advent a part of our family’s lives. Hopefully your baby step ideas will get me off to a good start!
UPDATE: Some weird technical glitch made comments closed. Anyway, it’s up now. Comment away!