Looking Back on Advent

Christmas 2012

You guys, I can’t believe it’s already the last Sunday of advent. Since this is my first Christmas since really learning about what advent is all about, and since I’m also trying to practice being still and being intentional, I had high hopes and expectations. But like a lot of things in life… well, I’m still working it out.

First, the successes. I did a few new things this year that I really liked. All of them kind of fall into the “being intentional” category, so I’m giving myself points for taking baby steps in the right direction!

The big one is pretty simple. I brought Christmas indoors. Since this is our first Christmas since being married, and it’s the first one we’re spending at home in NYC in a long time, I wanted to make the apartment feel special and not like just another season at home. After years of hanging empty stockings with thumbtacks on the walls and dangling ornaments and garland from the curtain rods in my apartment, I was ready for a change. So I took the plunge and bought our very own Christmas tree for our very first Christmas. I have no idea where we’re going to store it, but for now it looks gorgeous in our living room, and I can’t wait to decorate it together over the years.

We bought a couple adorable fair trade ornaments (another thing I’m trying to do intentionally since reading No Longer a Slum Dog by K.P. Yohannon) and a few glittery silver angels from the dollar store (not so intentional, but they were sparkly and I had a moment of weakness), and I won an ornament of the Empire State Building in the white elephant gift exchange at our dinner party last night, so I’m feeling pretty good about where this is going.

Secondly, we built a Christmas village. This might not seem so intentional except that it falls into our “bringing Christmas into the home” goal, and it’s working. It looks a whole lot like Christmas at home.

Thirdly, we got handwritten Christmas cards out to our near and dear ones.

And lastly, I feel like I finally hit my stride so to speak in the gift giving department. I set a self-imposed goal of $5.00-$10.00 per person for personal, thought out gifts, and let me tell you – it is possible. I was amazed at what I was able to put together in this price range to create meaningful and loving gifts, except for the few cases I went over that budget. I don’t want to give anything away just yet, but I created a Christmas 2012 board on Pinterest where there is sure to be photographic proof of all of the above as soon as I’m able to post gifts without spoiling the surprise!

The not so high point is none of that is really about Christmas. While I obviously don’t think there’s anything wrong with Christmas trees, Christmas cards, and Christmas presents, I haven’t spent a whole lot of time thinking about the very first Christmas. Or rather, I should say I’ve thought about it, but I haven’t done much about it. So I still need to practice my being still.  Because giving up three Sabbaths in a row to take care of all of the above does not an advent make.

And by that, of course I mean that if advent is about being still and preparing room in our hearts for Christ, then adding a whole bunch of other things to my plate is probably not the best way to do it. Every time I used my Sabbath to “do something Christmas-y,” no matter how intentional it was, I sacrificed the quiet time, Bible study, journaling, and blogging I usually love to do on those days, and now I’m wrapping up advent even less still than I started.

The good news is, I’ve learned a lot – not just about how I want to do Christmas in the future (with an advent calendar to keep my focus on what’s really important, more quiet time, a slower pace, and a typed and printed letter instead of hand written cards) – but also about being still. Like I said before, being still feels good. And even though advent as a season is wrapping up, I’m looking forward to preparing more and more room and getting down to the heart of Christmas: our Savior came.

A child has been born for us.
We have been given a son
who will be our ruler.
His names will be
Wonderful Advisor
and Mighty God,
Eternal Father
and Prince of Peace.

– Isaiah 9:6 (CEV)

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