I grew up in a family that put up Christmas decorations during Advent, listened to Christmas music starting the day after Thanksgiving and turned it off the day after Christmas. I continued this tradition with my own family. I usually spend most of Advent worrying about what I haven’t done, instead of contemplating “Who” is to come. During the Christmas Mass I end up looking at the nativity scene realizing I did not think much about baby Jesus during the 4 weeks prior to His birth. I allow the world’s spin on what the holy day should be trump the suggestions of the Church. I get nostalgic listening to the carols with sadness deep inside me due to unfulfilled expectations of how I believe the Christmas season should have played out. Taking down the decorations usually has me mourning the season, believing it is over - when in actuality it is just beginning.
This year I finally visited with my spiritual director about the melancholy that arises inside every time I hear a Christmas song play. He helped me see that my inability to focus on Jesus during Advent is exactly why Jesus came for me - to rescue me from my skewed faith and my temptations to seek the world’s way. Jesus came for ME. This was something new to my ears. I had never personalized Jesus’ birth like this before. To think that God loves me so much as to send His Son to rescue me. WOW! All of a sudden Advent seemed more hopeful. It became a time of awaiting the Christmas Mass when Jesus would arrive for me.
My entrustment to Mary helped me in this awaiting. Reflecting on her life during Advent, helped me see how she trusted in God’s plan - keeping her focus on the Son to be born - while not contesting the awful conditions and trials that came her way. When I wanted to complain that I had too much to do in preparing for Christmas – her life brought to light that Jesus - not gifts/cookies/cards/decorations/etc. - is the reason for the season. I found comfort imagining how she carries me in her arms, just as she carried the infant Jesus.
It was a special Christmas this year. Every time I started to succumb to the sadness I would remember that Jesus was coming to rescue me and my spirits were lifted. Maybe some readers have felt the same, and can also join in this good news – that God has sent His Son to rescue you, too! Knowing this truth certainly brings peace and joy, and a blessed hope for the New Year to come!