Two years ago I stumbled upon a new Advent tradition that has helped us reclaim Advent as a family quickly became one of our favorite Advent disciplines. But this tradition isn’t so much about doing as it is about not doing. This is the third Advent where our family has taken up a shopping-fast during the season of Advent.
So what happened? Two years ago I had a baby just ten days before the First Sunday of Advent. I knew I would be recovering from a C-section and that we were going to be reeling from the shock of going from one child to two. Part of my third-trimester nesting was doing all the Christmas shopping early. I was a madwoman, making sure every single gift arrived before the baby did. I’m sure it was motivated by my (totally rational) fear that shopping would never be the same again.
After all the presents were safely tucked away in the basement and Baby Mary was safely tucked into her bassinet, I discovered that it was actually the most peaceful, Christ-centered Advent I’d ever experienced. Instead of browsing Amazon for the millionth time, I spent the evenings carefully wrapping gifts, making homemade crafts, reading books, and praying.
The last three years, we’ve made a commitment to have all our Christmas shopping done before Advent begins. After that we can make handmade gifts, or offer spiritual bouquets or prepare treats, but nothing that needs to be bought at a store or online. We do make a few minor exceptions: candy for stockings (because there’s little chance we’re going to stick to our sweets-fast if I have bags of candy sitting in the pantry for a month!), perishables (like butter for baking), and craft supplies (because my crafts usually need at least one do-over).
At first I was afraid our shopping-fast would make us go over budget because we’d miss all the good deals. We discovered we actually spend considerably less this way because I am not tossing all the little “extras” in the cart or being lured by the promise of an extra 30% off. But the best fruit of our shopping fast is that it help protects our celebration of Advent. It keeps us from rushing into Christmas, or from becoming too focused on the gift-giving aspects of Christmas. And it helps us to nurture the peace and hopeful waiting of Advent because we’re intentionally staying away from the hustle and bustle.
What intentional things do you do as a family to focus on Advent?
Copyright 2017 Megan Swaim.