A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Ready, set…slow down?

Posted on: December 10, 2012

Brass Advent ring

My new Advent ring and candles

“Are you all ready for Christmas?” People often ask me that at this time of year. Meaning that they’re wondering whether I’m finished shopping, decorating and baking. Most years, I answer, “Yes, I am.”

What I don’t say is that sometimes getting ready stresses me out more than it brings me joy. I love giving gifts but not struggling with what to give; I love wrapping presents, sending cards and baking but not completing these activities at a blistering pace. I recognized my need to slow down a few years ago.

So I sent fewer cards, making sure to remember relatives I seldom see. I cut back my baking to a few fruitcakes, some butter cookies, and one other kind of cookies instead of four or five other kinds. Still, I wasn’t necessarily dreaming of a white Christmas. Probably because I was missing out on some important preparation.

Last year was my first Advent in a Catholic church. When I found out there would be a reconciliation service, I decided to go, even though experience made me think reconciliation was something for Lent rather than Advent. I was nervous to make my first confession, but now I can honestly agree that it’s good for the soul. This year I looked forward to the reconciliation service and the comfort it gave me. What better way to prepare for Christmas than to lighten your spiritual load so you can actually feel the anticipation and joy you’re meant to feel?

I finally purchased an Advent ring and candles so we could look forward to lighting the candles and reading the prayers each Sunday. I also attended the diocesan Catholic Women’s League retreat, led by Sister Rosemary O’Toole from The Upper Room Home of Prayer, which looked at how Mary could inspire us in Advent and beyond. And I’m enjoying the latest issues of Catholic Digest with their resources for the season.

My son enjoys preparing for Christmas using his Advent calendar.

Advent calendar

My son’s Advent calendar

It has a drawer for each day that you can hide treats in. This year, however, I’ve hidden a special treat in the drawer for the 25th—a cross on a cord—as a small way to turn something decorative into something more meaningful.

I’ve heard it said that anticipation is everything. As Catholics, we get to enjoy Advent as a time not only to attend parties but also to prepare to receive the greatest gift—Jesus.

How are you preparing during Advent?

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1 Response to "Ready, set…slow down?"

In the past few years, Advent preparation at our house has been one of prayer, simplicity and a reasonable amount of shopping. I wrote about it on my blog last week. Come on by and read it, if you’d like.

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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