But overall, this is a very quiet time of year for me, a time of waiting and reflection. Reflection on what I can do in the coming year to reach out to others, how to best use my personal gifts. In previous years I've participated in prison ministry, and making soup for the homeless. I don't yet know what will come out of this year's reflections.
December 6 was the Feast of St. Nicholas, so I've pulled this quote from a site with quotes about Advent and Christmas. It's by author Edward Hays, in A Pilgrim’s Almanac:
"It is fitting that the feast of St. Nicholas comes at the beginning of Advent and the beginning of the shopper’s season. As the patron saint of shoppers he proclaims, ‘Keep it simple!’
As in keep it simple enough to fit in a shoe or a stocking.
Setting aside the fact that modern consumerism would have us believe the Christmas shopping season begins in October, Hays goes on to say that one gift that could fit in a shoe, or say in a stocking hanging on the fireplace, is a note that offers of one of our most precious gifts, the gift of time. Such note might read: "...I give you half an hour of my time each night right after the dishes are done." Or, "...I give you one Saturday a month to be with you and do whatever you want to do."
According to a recent survey, the average married couple in America has only 30 minutes a week of communication outside of exchanges that take place at the dinner table, and exchanges between parent and child consist of only 14 minutes.
It's not too late to make Advent this year something more than a mad rush to buy presents. There are better ways of showing your love, and after learning the above, I am extremely grateful that my son and I spend more than 14 minutes a week talking. We talk almost nightly for a good 45 minutes or so. We've been known to spend hours sitting at the dinner table after the meal is done. Regarding Christmas, some years we buy gifts, others we share our blessings with others. Heifer International is a wonderful organization to contribute to in lieu of exchanging gifts, as is your local food pantry. This year I bought him a new coat...but I didn't wait for Christmas to give it to him. Why hide it away until Christmas when it's already cold outside?
The day itself will come and go. But since we practice Christmas every day in our home, we'll enjoy it just as much as we would any family dinner. Here is another quote from Edward Hays:
"Take time to be aware that in the very midst of our busy preparations for the celebration of Christ’s birth in ancient Bethlehem, Christ is reborn in the Bethlehems of our homes and daily lives. Take time, slow down, be still, be awake to the Divine Mystery that looks so common and so ordinary yet is wondrously present.
"An old abbot was fond of saying, ‘The devil is always the most active on the highest feast days.’
"The supreme trick of Old Scratch is to have us so busy decorating, preparing food, practicing music and cleaning in preparation for the feast of Christmas that we actually miss the coming of Christ. Hurt feelings, anger, impatience, injured egos—the list of clouds that busyness creates to blind us to the birth can be long, but it is familiar to us all."
If not for Jesus, we wouldn't be celebrating Christmas at all. So take some time this last week before Christmas to reflect on his life, and what he was about. It wasn't shopping and parties and cookies. Find ways to slow down and be Love to those around you instead. In the coming days, give of your heart and your time and your wisdom and concern, not necessarily of your wallet. I'd venture to say our loved ones will appreciate such personal gifts more than any pile of boxes under the tree.
Keep it simple, and keep your sanity. Starting today.
Think about it, and may what remains of this Advent season be just a little slower and more peace-filled for you and yours.
About the Author: Liana Laverentz is the award-winning author of two deeply emotional contemporary romances from The Wild Rose Press, Thin Ice and Jake’s Return, both of which will take you on an emotional roller coaster ride you won’t soon forget. For those who love romantic suspense, her Ashton’s Secret is a page turner of a murder mystery romance. In her spare time, Liana loves to read, watch thrillers and documentaries, make soup, take walks, and go on road trips. For more information, go to www.lianalaverentz.com.