Modern parenting has no shortage of overthinking things, and in particular, no shortage of overthinking holiday celebrations.
In 2015, as my family raced through the fall, my then first grader and three-year-old were already talking about Christmas. Barely past his 7th birthday in October, my son had moved onto Christmas. One day he asked, “Why can’t we just skip to Christmas? Advent is so boring!”
On the first Sunday of Advent after church, I get to go home and do one of my most favorite things. No, it is not decorate a Christmas tree—we will wait until the week of Christmas to do that. On the first Sunday of Advent, in my family, we set up our nativities.
How do we observe Advent?
For the past six years, #AdventWord has given the opportunity to participate in a global advent calendar with visual and written meditations. Each day, a short reflection, word, and image arrives in email inboxes and on social media to help focus on the preparatory season during the 24 busy days of Advent.
The Friday before the first weekend in Advent, I had only just arrived home when my nearly four year-old son asked if we could begin decorating right now! My wife and I agreed (after dinner). We said that, with our nine month-old beginning to sit up and crawl, we could decorate only at a height out of her reach. We’d set up our little Christmas tree: one that fits on a table top.
I saw an Instagram post this past week made by a residential program for women who are trying to piece their lives back together after varying circumstances. The picture in the post showed a small child holding a Christmas ornament, the young son of one of the women. The child was entranced with the sparkly red ball in his hands.
When is it okay to start listening to Christmas music? This is not a trick question—I am not the worship police, but I am very aware that we Christians can be particularly judgy about music. For years, I, too, did not want to acknowledge Christmas music in Advent, not least because I love Advent and its hymns (“Comfort, Comfort Ye My People!”).
I know that it is the season of Advent, but Christmas is on my heart and mind. It’s hard to avoid, since, in the words of fictional rock-n-roll legend Billy Mack, “Christmas is all around.” Christmas is on tv, in stores, in our email boxes, and of course, we’re inundated with holiday musical classics.
There is so much I hoped to do during this Advent, for my own kids, for the children and families in my ministry, and yes, for myself. And as always, come Christmas morning, some of it will have to be put away with vague hopes and promises of next year