Advent is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. The term is a version of the Latin word adventus, meaning "coming". Here we are, another Advent, we are just two days away from celebrating the birth of Jesus, the reason for the season as we sometimes hear it referred to. In life we go from being the children who are the recipients of much of the fuss and preparation to being the ones who do the preparing.

As adults we have likely done much at this point to ready our homes, purchase gifts, and fulfill our obligations, traditions and expectations. My family has expectations that we will do the same things we do every year, the traditions they have come to expect. Yet they also hope that I don’t get stressed or irritable in the process.  Every year I tell myself it will be different this time, I will start earlier, I will shop in October, I will freeze the cookie dough in early December, I will set my sights lower and not make homemade icons or candles for the people I love.

Is there a way to prepare for the birth of our Lord and not be stressed? I believe the answer can be a yes/and. At some point I generally have a moment where I accept that it is a busy, stressful time of year, and I let go and give myself the gift of my own memories and time for contemplation. This is when I remember that Christmas is filled with contradictions and dichotomies; joy and pain, busyness and silence, abundance and scarcity, complexity and simplicity. It is the earnest holding of both that makes for a complete Christmas. It is in the making room for both that we make room for the birth of Jesus in our hearts again and again. This is where love was born in us and is reborn in us. It doesn’t happen just once, much like Christmas, it comes every year and we need it every year.

I am regularly in contact with our neighbors who live deeply in these contradictions. I struggle with my own joy and abundance in the face of pain and scarcity I witness daily. Often the best response to these needs, the only resource I can consistently come up with, is not in the form of money or material goods, but it is in the form of love. The love that cannot be bought, or rushed, or decorated.  

Peace and Christmas blessings