Celebrating Christ Now

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I’ve always loved the Advent season, but this time of year has become even more exciting since having children.  My oldest daughter Madeline just turned 4 and is very eager to partake in all of the holiday preparations.  (So far she’s only asked for a pencil from Santa Claus, but her plans for the Advent season are much more elaborate. She wants to bake cookies, adorn a huge tree with ornaments, go to the dollar store to shop for everyone,  go Christmas caroling,  play with her Nativity scene, and liberally deck our halls.)

As we start to enjoy Advent and all of the related holiday festivities such as festooning our home with holiday décor, reading our favorite Christmas stories,  and counting down to December 25th with our Advent calendars, Madeline gets more and more excited.

“How much longer until Christmas?” she asks.

Like most kiddos, she’s ready for the big shebang, and really, four weeks to a preschooler can seem like an eternity.

So how do I teach her to enjoy the waiting? To relish in not only preparing for the holiday fun but also in preparing for our Lord’s coming? To not only open presents come Christmas morning but to open her heart to Jesus as well?

To start, I can be a better example. How can I expect my preschooler to be patient for Christmas when I’m always looking ahead?

I’m definitely not very good at waiting. And, I’m not always the model of patience, especially not lately when exhaustion often consumes me as I’m faced with taking care of two little ones and a baby in utero while juggling so many other things in my life. Like many moms during this time of year, it’s easy for me to start to feel overwhelmed as I attempt to tackle my holiday to-do list on top of my everyday responsibilities.

Sometimes I have to stop and remind myself to not get so caught up in all the peripheral holiday hoopla – from sending out a slew of Christmas cards to attending yet another Yuletide potluck  – that I’m  distracted and not nearly as mindful as I should be of the “reason for the season.”

When I really start to focus on the meaning of Advent and Christmas,  I ‘m also better able to grasp that there’s no better time celebrate Jesus than right now.

Sure, I enjoy seeing decorations and hearing Christmas carols, but I don’t really need any of the sights and sounds of the holidays to bring Jesus into my life. I don’t have to and shouldn’t wait for a holiday season or perhaps a time when I have great prayer needs to invite Christ into my life. Nor do I need to wait until Christmas morning when my family opens all those colorful presents beneath the tree to consider the gifts Jesus gives me every day.

Advent is a time for waiting and preparing, but it’s also a reminder to celebrate Jesus now. I don’t want to get so wrapped up in the holiday preparations or even in the waiting for his coming that I forget all the joy I have in my heart at this very moment because of him and his selfless love for us all.

“Mommy, it’s not going to be too much longer, is it?” Madeline asks.

No. It’s happening right now. The Light of the World is here if we only take the time to open our eyes and look….

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