Do you all know about Advent? It’s my favorite season of the year. The four weeks before Christmas where we spend our time and energy getting ready for that God with Us moment that “happens” every year on Christmas. It’s a season of preparation and joy, darkness and waiting.
I am an Advent girl at heart. Give me a complicated ornament set-up with a story to read everyday to my children, a candle that I move daily, morning reflections delivered to my email, evening reflections delivered via my treasured Christmas books, things to hand out, stuff to unwrap, schedules to keep. Any other year, you will find any and all of these traditions in my home. Except not this year. I bet many of you are feeling the same way. This year? Extra stuff? No thanks.
It’s ironic that in a season where most of us have slowed down - less sports, less school, less events, less things to do and places to go - that it really feels like just too much to try and maintain regular traditions. This has been an exhausting year, in spite of the fact that we’ve spent a huge portion of it at home. My theory is that it’s about mental exhaustion. It takes work to figure out a new normal. It takes a huge amount of mental energy to even make the most minor of decisions now. Do I go to the store or get groceries delivered? Is it safe to attend an outside birthday party? Is it ok to take this kid home from sports practice? Is it safe for my kids to go back to school? Who is in our pandemic pod? How do we celebrate when we can’t follow our usual traditions? Should we attend church in person or online? Is it safe to go to festivals or fairs?
Every decision is laden with more consequences than we’re used to dealing with on a regular basis. Then there’s more complicated burdens: how do I care for my kids’ mental health? How do I care for my mental health? How do I serve my community safely? How do I find out what people’s needs are when I can’t do all of my normal activities? How does a humanity wired for connection learn new ways of connecting with one another? How do the extroverts among us find energy without the large group to sustain them? How do the introverts among us find relief when they are never ever alone in their homes anymore?
We’re tired, and it’s ok to say so. It’s ok for Advent to be too much for us this year. If there was ever a year for us to say, “I just can’t anymore”, this is it, and I’ve done my share of that kind of despairing commenting in the past months. That’s why I’ve decided to focus on just one thing this year: what I can do. We’re forsaking our usual, more complicated Advent traditions in this house in lieu of a new one. I downloaded a weekly advent series that basically amounts to a Christmas story, a couple questions, and an adult-style coloring page. That’s it. It’s not fancy, and it’s not complicated. It’s what we can do right now. That’s my entire Christmas season strategy: what I can do.
This series is an offering to those of you who feel similarly. In a season where you just can’t, I hope this will be a small thing that reminds you that you can. Every week I’ll offer a reflection, a scripture, a song, and an invitation. It’s based on the most traditional of Advent themes, the wording pulled from the family Advent devotional we’re doing together.
What can we do?
We can hold hope.
We can bring peace.
We can practice joy.
We can choose love.
There are no real challenges. There are no complicated instructions. You can do as much of it as you can do. That’s enough.
Welcome to Basic Advent.
*I’ll be showing up here on the next four Sundays talking about what we can do and how we can show up in the middle of a pandemic to prepare for a God who showed up for us in the flesh, here, in a broken world. Don’t want to miss a post? Sign up at the link below to get it straight into your inbox. You’re not into it? Just skip the Sunday posts. Or maybe? Read it? Consider that it’s all a little easier and more grace-full than what you think.