The phone rang in my labor room. “Is the baby here yet?” My mother’s voice asked excitedly on the other end.
“Not yet, mom, we are still waiting.” I looked down at my rosary beads, grit my teeth through another contraction, and continued to pray. The anticipation of seeing my beautiful new daughter was stronger even than my labor pains and I couldn’t wait to meet her.
As with all wonderful things, when the waiting is over, you think back fondly about that amazing time when you were filled with anticipation and wonder. I am sure it was that way for the Holy Family on that first Christmas and it continues to be that way for us as we celebrate each Advent season. How then do we wait patiently?
“Be still and know that I am God.”
This message from our Father God gives the idea of still waiting a whole new meaning. Waiting is an excellent opportunity to pray and draw closer to God.
I pray when I wait for my kids to come from the first day of school. I also pray when my husband is faced with a challenge at work and I am pacing the floor at home waiting to hear the outcome. It passes time, but more importantly it opens our hearts so that we can be still while waiting.
Focus on what you are doing for others.
Children love to play secret Santa to a friend or neighbor. The eagerly plan a little surprise for each week leading up to Christmas and the weeks fly by.
Remain in service to others.
When we are busy caring for the needs of others we are acting as Christ to them. Transitioning our kids from society’s “me first” type of thinking to putting another’s needs above their own is a vital step in teaching them to become strong Christians. Consider donating time at church to put Christmas food baskets together for those less fortunate than themselves. This helps children remember that, for some, this season is not about what they will get for Christmas, but about how they will get by.
One Christmas my husband had been unemployed for about 6 months. We had five children at the time and someone took pity on us and anonymously gifted our family through a local church. As a result, someone delivered many presents to our home before Christmas day. We decided as a family, that we could not accept more gifts than we thought were reasonable. We let each child pick out a few brightly colored packages and then asked them what we should do with the rest. They decided to donate them to a shelter where the kids had less than they did. I have never seen them so happy to give and they still talk about that as their favorite Christmas ever.
Savor the sweet anticipation.
Use an Advent calendar to heighten the wonderful excitement and anticipation of Christmas day.
Plan a family calendar.
Include the dates you will make cookies, visit friends, and participate in the Christmas play at church so that there are many days to look forward to.
Keep Christ and not the shopping and craziness the center of the season.
Light the Advent wreath at home and pray the special prayers together each night. Use the goodwill and excitement of the season to create a stronger family bond that will last all through the year. “Mom, is baby Jesus here yet?” “Not yet, Sweetheart, we are still waiting!
Copyright 2014, Mary Lou Rosien
Reprinted from a Take-Out (OSV) article, I wrote 2008