By Allison Hull
I’m going to talk about something controversial. It might get some very heated so you may want to click back to another page. Seriously, you’ve been warned.
I’m talking about Advent. How to celebrate it as opposed to Christmas. Now, I’ve been talking to a number of people and this subject gets everyone riled up for some reason. Everyone thinks they’ve got the right idea about how to celebrate it, especially if you’re religious. One thing we can all agree on is that it’s a time of preparation.
My husband is a huge Christmas fan. He listens to the music in July, watches Elf and Jingle All the Way in March, and tries to leave the tree up through Valentine’s Day. If he could, he’d live in a Christmas Village. I’m practical about it all. There is a season, time, and place for Christmas and it must stay in that time never to be encroaching elsewhere. You can see our ‘disagreements’ right? Lately, people have been talking about how to celebrate Advent. Do NOT put up a tree, no decorating for Christmas before the Eve, you have to prepare for Christ’s coming, don’t even think about putting presents out, the church better not have wreaths and things out except for the Advent Wreath because it’s Advent NOT Christmas.
I get it. Really. But how do you prepare for something? You don’t quickly set things up haphazardly the night before unless you’re a procrastinator. Preparation is all about meticulous planning and executing. Let’s say you’re planning for a wedding. For the most part you plan months in advance. The day of the wedding the bride gets ready by first having her hair done, then putting on make-up, next comes the dress, and maybe even the veil. Then she is ready to meet her groom at the altar, dressed in her finest, glowing, and arrayed in white. She doesn’t slap on the dress, put the hair up, and do her make-up right before hand. At least not any of the weddings I’ve been to. No, there’s a process with each step getting her ready for her groom. And with each step the anticipation builds, the excitement grows, and the beauty of the whole day is leading up to that time in front of the priest and God.
So it is with Advent. We should be preparing in steps. A gradual change that leads up to that beautiful night of His birth. I’m not talking about slapping that tree up the day after Thanksgiving. But don’t leave Advent bare without any wonderment or anticipation. One beautiful tradition at my old church was setting up the nativity. Each Sunday would be new animals, shepherds, wise men, the family, and finally baby Jesus. And each Sunday I couldn’t wait to see who was set out. The excitement is one of the greatest parts of Advent. Because unlike Lent in its somberness, this is preparation for life not death. How about putting the tree up one Sunday and the next dressing it, and then the next Sunday lighting it? Let’s get children, young and old, excited about Advent AND Christmas not just trying to wait and hold our breath. Even in our readings there’s a buildup to the Christmas story. There’s a watchfulness, not a terror, a joyful anticipation. Let’s dress the Bride for her Groom in stages so everyone is prepared and truly eager for every single day not just the day of His birth. All right, commence the tongue wagging. I’ll be here sipping my egg nog listening to What Child Is This.