Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lovin on Advent

I love Advent. Love Love Love it.  I love the color of the "darkest sky before the dawn,"  I love the anticipation and the honesty, the willingness to say, "Look at this world, God!  We really need you! Could you please come?" And the waiting. I love the active, eager, honest waiting for the light of the world.  Yum.


I DO NOT love shopping.
I hate shopping. And I ESPECIALLY hate shopping in Advent. It corrupts my Advent.  Muddies it with florescent brightness. Shopping spoils my waiting - because the good waiting, the dark and quiet and hopeful and prayerful and yearning waiting-  is ruined by the noisy, pushy, honking, piped-in-carols, counting-down-shopping-days waiting of "Holiday Season."

I worked at Pottery Barn for a holiday season, people, I've seen it from both sides.  And it is not pretty.  Normally fine people, perfectly pleasant people, become snippy, rude, pushy and greedy. (And I'm including myself in this). The smell of consumption clings to our clothes and our hair, the commercials screaming deals assault us and the never-ending checklist hovers over our waking hours.  And buried behind all this mess is the poignant call of Advent to settle into the deep. To get in touch with our need. To wait for God.

(And, let's just be clear, here, I am not going to be the person who can skip gifts and just donate to charity.  I enjoy the gift-giving and won't not do it.  I love Christmas. Almost as much as I love Advent.  Almost).

Well, I've had enough.

Today I read about someone who completes all their Christmas shopping and wrapping BY THANKSGIVING.  Done.  Then they spend all of December enjoying time with their family.  Ignoring the sales and the pressure and the crowds.  And I almost wept out loud.

That's it. I'm doing it.
I'm reclaiming Advent.

Every year I get swept into the madness, and feel overwhelmed and guilty and tired and sad and rushed.
Not this year.
I am in charge of my time and money - I am the steward of the gifts given to me to share! (Look into the mirror and say it with me!)  My time is more valuable than I treat it sometimes.  When the dust settles, I can remember what's important.  It just gets stirred up and confused sometimes.
So.  I'm doing things differently this year.  I'm doing my Christmas shopping now.

I'm hoping that shopping now - when the stores have already been displaying Christmas things for a month, I might add, but before the real drama of the consumer season begins - will help me keep some perspective:
That Christmas is really about presence, not presents,
that connecting with people is how we connect with God,
that the whole point of all of it is celebrating that God comes to share life with humanity, and we are called to share life with one another,
that the whole world belongs to God and not just the people I personally love.
That all of Advent is for sitting in the grey twilight of reality, holding life's treasures and pain gently, tenderly, openly - and not trampling all over them with tinsel and cheer.

36 shopping days until Thanksgiving.  (38 until Advent!)
I'm getting it done.
So I can sink into the wait.

Advent, sweet Advent, here I come.


Terry Roos said...

Kara, you've got to hear Paul Simon's song "Gettin' Ready for Christmas." It's on his most recent album So Beautiful, So What. I love this album, every song, but Gettin' Ready speaks to me of Advent throngs and Advent calms.
Terry Roos

stephy said...

This is lovely! How's it working for you? I decided this year to give cash. Everyone loves it and they can use it at post-xmas sales. And I don't have to brave the throbbing mobs to get it. (Well, I kinda do in theory.)

Kara said...

It's going great! I'm almost finished! It helps me SO much to have no lines or "holiday sales" - I stay focused and don't impulse buy. (And if I need to get in the spirit I just go into Target's back corner for a few minutes to soak it in).

Ordinary Miracles and Ongoing Epiphany

  Adoration of the Magi,  Andrea Mantegna , c. 1495-1505. When Epiphany dawns, the swaddling clothes have long been packed away in the attic...