Preparing Our Hearts & Homes for Advent and Christmas
Rip! Another calendar page bites the dust. November is upon us and the stores are already crammed with Christmas decorations. Even before Halloween we were bombarded with Christmas and Thanksgiving items ready to be snatched up by the all-too-easily-influenced consumer.
All this reminds me why we chose to focus November on preparing our hearts and homes for Advent and Christmas. We need to be proactive. It’s not just the temptation to be swept up by the marketing machine; the pace of our lives seem to keep time with the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Before we know it, it’s January first and we’re making resolutions to do better next Christmas.
Resistance Is Futile! (or is it?)
“Overcoming Consumerism” is our mini-theme this week. What can we do to resist the onslaught? First and foremost, we need to be intentional. Most often I think we acknowledge the craziness of the season, wish it were different, then plunge in without a plan. In her post “Seven Tips for a Stress Free Advent and Christmas”, Christine Sine gives excellent advice to carve out physical and emotional space conducive to keeping our center during this frenetic time of year.
You might also take our four November mini-themes as reflection points as you both begin and end the week. Here they are:
- Week 1: Overcoming Consumerism — Resisting the drive for more.
- Week 2: Resting in Chaos — How to create space for rest when the world is whipped up into a frenzy.
- Week 3: Keeping It Simple
- Week 4: Making Space for Hospitality — Ideas for gatherings of welcome and moments of connecting.
With this framework, you could begin your week asking:
- What are the temptations to overconsume this coming week? Why am I tempted by them? (Knowing what motivates us to overconsume is a deeply spiritual issue). How can I become more aware of my unhealthy motivations as I go about my week?
- What gives me peace? What can I do this week that will help me to rest and refocus? As Christine suggests, you might create a place of rest in or around your home. You might try setting an alarm on your phone to 9 am, 12 noon, 3 pm, 6 pm, and 9 pm – simple reminders to stop, pray, and rest for a moment in God. Perhaps you could change how you take lunch, turning that time into a sacred break in the middle of your day.
- In the week ahead, where am I tempted to make things complicated? For many, Advent and Christmas are times to go overboard on decorations, lavish treats and dinners, and packed schedules. Take time to reflect on what is most important. If helpful, reframe your gatherings from entertainment to a gathering of good friends. When we focus on entertaining, or even hospitality, we often end up emphasizing the production rather than the people. How can you simplify by cultivating good conversations and relationships rather than complex party plans?
- That last point leads right into making space for hospitality. For us introverts, this may unearth anxieties about crowds and chaos during this season. But hospitality comes in many shapes and sizes. Valuing friendships over frenzy, you might make a point of meeting each week for coffee or tea with one person who is important to you. It might be the same person every week, or you might choose to meet with different people.
You might also want to facilitate a small gathering of friends, potluck the dinner and/or have a cookie exchange. Invite friends over for a game night, or how about a movable decoration party where you turn putting up those outdoor lights into a rotating group event? The point is to get people together in simple, fun ways that emphasize togetherness.
At the end of the week, turn those questions inside-out by asking yourself:
- How well did I live into my goals?
- What can I do differently this coming week?
- Who can I invite to join me on this journey?
That last question is critical for most of us: On our own we’re often not too successful at change. We need others around us. We need people to ask how we’re doing, what difficulties we’re facing as the holidays near, and to journey with us into a more Christ-focused season. Who might that be for you?
I hope you join us on this expedition through the jungle of holiday excess. Many perils may cross our path, but together we can reach our destination in peace and with sanity in-tact.
One more thing you might find that journaling will help you to better arrange your thoughts and review your progress. Journals don’t have to be written, they might be drawn, painted, or a scrapbook of reminders. If you do choose to write, think about different forms of writing that might release even more reflection – try a poem, a short story, or even a song.
This is part of our series “Preparing Our Hearts and Homes for Advent and Christmas”. We invite you to look ahead at the mini-theme for each week. If you’re interested in writing a post for us for one of these weeks, we’d love to share your thoughts! Please take a moment to review our “Join Our Writer’s Community” page to find out more, then drop us an email. We want Godspace to be your space.