Advent is a penitential season, despite the hustle and bustle of secular celebrations. Here’s how to celebrate Advent like a boss, even when you are impatient.
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Waiting is not easy…..
Gerald the Pig (Waiting is Not Easy by Mo Willems)
If you’ve never read anything by Mo Willems, you should.
We own several of his Elephant and Piggie books, in which Willems chronicles the friendship of two unlikely best friends: an elephant (Gerald) and a pig (Piggie). Over the years, we’ve watched this dynamic duo plan for a drive, fight their afternoon naps, learn how to share, and even discover they live in a book.
Our current favorite is Waiting is Not Easy, in which Piggie, the eternal optimist, has a surprise for melancholy Gerald. As Gerald’s patience wanes with the daylight, Piggie encourages him to wait it out:
It will be worth it
he says, while impatient Gerald continues to sweat.
Willems wrote Waiting is not Easy for children, but it’s incredibly humbling to recognize myself in Gerald, my impatience thrown into sharp relief by no less than a melancholy elephant. I find it especially pertinent this time of year:
Halloween has come and gone, Thanksgiving is not yet upon us, and yet the stores have had Santa and his reindeer waiting in the wings since August.
Why in the world is there such a rush?
The answer is a sweet one, honestly, and it rests in the heart of goodness and truth.
The human soul craves the beauty and joy of the Christ child’s promise. It longs for a peace and unity that tiny baby brings. As our secular society watches the days grow shorter and our nights get longer, it instinctively looks toward Christmas, the compass which will point our way.
The Christmas season brings a joy which can set out hearts on fire – but only if the kindling is primed from the start.
How to Advent Like a Boss, Even When You are Impatient
Advent is a penitential season. My pastor has often referred to it is a mini-Lent, a time of prayer, sacrifice, and almsgiving in preparation for the birth of the Christ child. How do we keep the spirit of the Advent season when the world ties us up in baubles and bows?
Turn off social media. Keep the Christmas music off. Avoid the Hallmark channel and its seasonal movies. The less holiday stimulus you take in, the easier it will be to focus on the prayerful, sacrificial nature of Advent.
It’s okay to turn down social obligations. Say no to something – wether it be one more party, another cookie exchange, or some other Christmas celebration. Replace that spot on your calendar with Adoration, daily mass, or confession instead. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Let go of the hustle and bustle, and embrace the quiet instead.
Make a daily sacrifice
One small sacrificial act can make a world of difference. Skip the cream in your coffee or donate the cost of a cup to the poor. Bring the family on board with a daily Advent calendar: replace the chocolates with a daily work of mercy.
Reverse engineer the holiday
If you just can’t wait to put up the tree, hold off on the ornaments. Decorate with pink and purple ribbons instead, removing one ribbon each day and replacing it with a Christmas ornament. Your tree won’t be fully decorated until Christmas Eve, and you’ll keep a reminder of the penitential season front and center.
I know that waiting is not easy. But it’s vital to sharing in the mystery and wonder of Christ’s birth.
As we head into this holy season, keep your focus on the tiny baby in the manger. Meditate on the Holy Family’s preparation for Christ’s birth. Dedicate your free time to study and prayer.
And trust in the words of Mo Willems’ indomitable pig:
It will absolutely be worth it.
This post is part of the CWBN Blog Hop for December: Keeping Advent, Advent.