I love this time of year. I love Advent. I love Christmas. It is by far my favorite time of the year. Lots of people I know think this time of the year is stressful with all the parties, gift buying, baking that often takes place but it is truly a beautiful time to prepare our hearts for the birth of Jesus. There are a few things, I’ve done to help myself focus on prayer and not the hustle and bustle.
The single best thing I have done to help make Advent truly a time to prepare my heart and family for Christmas is to have all of my Christmas shopping done (and wrapped) before Advent starts. Two years ago was the first time I happened to do this (thank you, online shopping during the night while nursing a baby) and it was amazing.
Last year it was all wrapped before Advent started and it was the single best Advent I have ever had. I was able to focus on praying, celebrating all the wonderful feast days during Advent, and truly prepare my heart and home for the birth of Jesus. Bonus of having all my Christmas shopping finished before Advent starts is that I’m not sick of Christmas decorations or music before it’s actually Christmas, since the only shopping I do is for food. Double bonus, it’s easier on our budget.
The second best thing I have done to prepare is to decorate our home slowly. Now I know there are a lot of Catholics who do not have a single Christmas decoration up until Christmas Eve (including their Christmas tree), our family is not that way. That is way more stressful to me. We put up our tree the weekend after Thanksgiving (and keep it up until at least the epiphany) but slowly over the entire month or so of Advent we put lights up, ornaments, hang stockings, and decorations throughout our house. It was a wodndeful feeling taking our time to decorate the house. We plan to do the same this year and I’m looking so forward to it.