Advent is nearly ended and the celebrations of Christmas are just around the corner. This month of December can be like a helter-skelter, landing us in a exhausted, yet hopefully happy heap on the eve of Christmas. Our ideal is that it’s filled with delicious smelling foods, much loved traditions, twinkly lights, and sparkly-eyed children. However, it can also be somewhat fraught with to-do lists, over tired people, busyness and bustle … or is that just us?!
However, Advent is not merely a preparation for Christmas. It is a distinct season in itself, a little like Lent is to Easter. It encompasses the tension between the brokenness of our world now and the glorious hope we have in Jesus. It allows us to grieve deeply for the pain around us, while knowing that there is redemption in Jesus. It is a time to engage with a God who did not stay far removed from His creation, but came down as a helpless, vulnerable baby to share in all the everyday joys and challenges of life; the incarnation.
During Advent we can hold the ideals of what we’d like our families to look like, alongside the reality of our everyday day lives. It is a season which invites us to both weep deeply and rejoice wildly.
Each year I have the intention of celebrating Advent well; allowing time and space to read and contemplate. Each year I am interrupted in this by a constant stream of requests and demands on my time. I’m quite sure I’m not alone in this. And yet, is this not what Christmas is all about? God among us. His life laid down for us? Our lives laid down for others? Might I be overlooking the very mission God has entrusted to me, if I try to bypass the mundane for more visibly valued tasks?
This Advent, once again, has flown by. There are many things we’ve not done which I’d hoped we would, many tears cried as we try to navigate girl teen years and keep a little one, scarred by trauma, calm when secure daily rhythms are not in place. I seem to have spent more time in the car than normal, but am delighted that this is due to the flourishing extra curricular activities of our children. There has been the continual grappling of how to live in the world we increasingly find ourselves in; to “live not by lies” (Rod Dreher, 2020). But there has been laughter too, numerous deep discussions around the dinner table, the wonder of glorious sunsets and the peace of candle light and hot tea first thing in the morning. We’ve had some fabulous outings, enjoyed meeting up with friends, thrown ourselves into Christmas crafting and cooking and taken time out to sit and read aloud together. It has been a season which has invited me to acknowledge my fears to the God who created me, to weep deeply and to celebrate with joy and laughter.
Now, in this week before Christmas, we are hibernating for a few days away from home in a friend’s house by the sea. I can’t quite believe we are here, having left all the usual pre Christmas whirlwind firmly behind. It is quiet. I’m reading to myself, to the girls and to the whole family. We’re walking and eating meals I’d shopped for and prepared beforehand. I can take great gulps of sea air. It is a place of memories and a reminder of God’s faithfulness and a multitude of answered prayers. The future for all of us may be ever more uncertain, but Jesus, our Rock and Redeemer is the same yesterday, today and forever.
As we draw to the close of the year, thank you all for taking time to read these reflections of family, faith and seasons of life. For those of you who home educate, do check out Mended Teacups home ed podcast which I trust will encourage you. May you all have a very merry Christmas, filled with joy, peace, hope and love.