Given that retail stores now put out all of the Christmas décor just after the July 4th holiday, I should not have been surprised when my social media feed was saturated with pictures of friends and family decorating for Christmas the day after Halloween. No, it shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did. Whatever happened to giving thanks before receiving gifts? What ever happened to relishing the awaiting of Christ?
Relish. That is the word that I have returned to time and time again over these last few weeks. Although I, too, am anxious to get the Christmas tree and the gingerbread houses decorated, my heart yearns to relish the sacred moments of praying together as a family around the simple, handmade paper Advent wreath. I yearn to relish the feeling of anticipation of the greatest gift God has ever betrothed to his people–the gift of himself in the form of human flesh, Christ Jesus.
So this year I am choosing to relish the long days of Advent. Instead of just hurriedly cleaning up the messes left behind after the feast, I am instead choosing to relish the time this season offers for giving thanks to God for the gift he gave us on Christmas day. I will relish the days of Advent, taking each day as an opportunity to think about the return of Christ and the promise of everlasting life. I will relish the holiday chaos that comes with family life—enjoying the messes, running from one Christmas pageant or party to the next, fighting the crowds to see the best Christmas lights in town—and I will even enjoy the noise of my children (as hard as it is sometimes). I will relish it all (even the messes), for it is all part of God’s gift to our families.
As you and your family begin your own celebration of Advent and holiday traditions, I pray that you, too, will stop and relish the moments of anticipation, joy, and the beauty of the season. For the secret of happiness, in the words of St. Gianna, is to live moment by moment and to thank God for what he is sending us every day in his goodness. Relish those moments. Give thanks to God. For he certainly has and will continue to share his goodness with us through this season!