The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come." ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer
This year has been ridiculous. Covid-19 has completely turned our world upside down. And as it looks now, there is no end in sight. Troubled in soul, seems to be an understatement.
In addition to the current social distancing precautions, our Premier announced a few days ago, that in Alberta, more restrictions are being set in place to help “flatten the curve”. One of those restrictions is a drastic reduction on interaction with friends and family. And while I understand the reasoning behind it, I confess, I don’t like it. Not at all.
Not long after the announcement, my daughter, who just recently moved out on her own, texted her dad asking if he thought they would be cancelling Christmas.
That text broke my heart.
We did our best to calm her worries, but truthfully, I began to wonder if we would actually be able to see family this Christmas.
Would my boys be able to come home?
Could Christmas actually be cancelled?
This was a sobering thought. My husband and I considered the real possibility of this, and we discussed the potential ramifications. They were not happy. Neither was I.
During a conversation with our pastor, we lamented our concerns.
“Well” he said. "Certain aspects of family interactions might be cancelled but, Christmas itself, could never be!”
My heart flip-flopped when he said that.
I mean, I know you can’t cancel Christmas. But, the thought of not being able to be with my family during this, my favorite, season, plummeted me into despair. Christmas won't be the same without them.
For the most part, I’ve been relatively calm and collected throughout this pandemic. While I’ve had moments of grief; times where the strain of social distancing has been so very difficult, my hope has been grounded in Christ and it has sustained me. But this announcement, this possibility, this idea, that I might not be able to be with all of my kids over Christmas, overwhelmed me. I quickly became angry. And bitter. And it became very evident in my actions.
My husband called me out. (Which, in all honesty, I didn’t much like.)
“Melinda. Get a grip. You’re so cranky!”
“Really? Really Jason? Yeah, I am cranky! I’m allowed to be cranky! I’ve been so good through this whole stupid pandemic and today, I’m allowed to be cranky!”
I don’t know if that’s true or not; (probably not) but regardless, I was cranky and I didn’t care.
But when my pastor spoke those words, they sunk into my heart.
“Christmas could never be cancelled!”
I’m so over this pandemic. Like, sick to death of it. (As I’m sure you are, too.) And I’m not happy that I might not be able to see my kids, or my family this Christmas. You guys? That will truly, suck all of the sucks.
Whatever happens with restrictions and regulations, whether my boys are able to come home or not, even if we all end up locked down in our homes, Christmas could never be cancelled!
Here's what I've been pondering......
What if this dumb pandemic is actually an opportunity for me to get back to what Christmas is all about? What if it forces me to strip away the traditions and customs I've practicing; the expectations I’ve been placing on myself, that don’t contribute to the true meaning of Christmas?
I don't know; I just feel like this year, I want Christmas to be especially special. Regardless of restrictions and lockdowns and social distancing and fear. This year, I want to fully embrace the Truth of Christmas.
Because above everything else, above traditions, above gifts, even above getting together with family and friends, Christmas is about Love. It is about the love of God that is so perfect, so profound, He sent His only Son to this earth, to be born of a virgin, to save His people from their sins.
To save me from my sin.
To save you from your sin.
If that’s not a reason to celebrate, then I don’t know what is.
Love still exists!
Christmas is not cancelled!
Let’s turn toward the Light, and spread His love as we wait, hope and prepare for the coming of our Savior.
So, here is one of the ways I'm going to embrace the true meaning of Christmas. Because Christmas is all about Love, I'd really like to focus on showing, spreading, exhibiting, Love to those around me; family, friends and strangers alike.
Advent starts on November 29 and this year, I'm going to celebrate each day. I've compiled a list of ideas, not only to spread love, but to help me turn my heart toward Christ as I prepare for Christmas.
And I wondered if, maybe you'd like to join me?
God of hope, I look to you with an open heart and yearning spirit. During this Advent season, I will keep alert and awake, listening for your word and keeping to your precepts. My hope is in you." ~ Matthew Kelly
This list is not exclusive. As I discover new ideas, I will add them. They are in no particular order. Choose according to your preference and, according to your budget. If you have ideas you'd like to share, pop them into the comments below and I will add them to the list.
I will be making a daily post on my Facebook page where we can share our experiences with one another. I'd love it if you'd join me, and others, in sharing your thoughts and experiences as we spread the Love of Christmas!
Buy coffee for someone in the drive through behind you.
Write a letter offering forgiveness to someone who's hurt you.
Write a letter asking for forgiveness from someone you've hurt.
Write a letter of encouragement to someone in your church.
Set up a zoom meeting with a friend or family member you haven’t spoken to in a long time.
Pray for one person you wouldn’t normally pray for, every day during advent. (Ask God to direct you to just the right person.)
Sing Christmas carols outside a senior’s home.
Adopt a needy family for Christmas.
Donate money to a worthy cause.
Say “thank you” to someone who made, or is making, a difference in your life.
Send a card to people who dedicate their lives to helping us – soldiers, police officers, fire fighters and teachers, to name a few.
Shovel your neighbor’s sidewalks.
Write a letter of encouragement to your pastor.
Send the janitor (of your work, your church, or maybe even your house!) a little Christmas gift and card thanking them for their work.
Take a cute photo of someone you love and mail or email it to them.
Candy cane bomb a parking lot.
Pick someone in a grocery store and buy their groceries.
Start a conversation on Facebook asking your friends to share their favorite Christmas memory.
Write a love letter to your spouse.
Write a love letter to Jesus.
Write an acrostic poem using your name to describe how you believe God sees you.
Set aside an evening to dim the lights, light candles, gather your family, sip hot cocoa, eat a sweet treat, and read Christmas stories together.
Meet with someone (in person if you’re allowed, otherwise via the internet) who could use a listening ear. You don’t have to have all the answers. Just listen. And love.
Write letters to your grown children sharing a favorite memory of them as a child, and telling them one or more of their attributes that you love about them.
Write out the Christmas story in your own words.
Start a gratitude journal.
Donate food/money to a local food bank.
Volunteer at a local food bank or soup kitchen.
Donate some time to a local animal shelter.
Fill a backpack with essentials and give it to a homeless person.
Bake cookies for a single parent.
If you decide to join me in celebrating Advent, would you let me know, either in the comments below, or through The Barefoot Warrior.