Driving through any American neighborhood around Thanksgiving reveals a plethora of Christmas decorations even before the start of Advent. Each year, people decorate their homes with Christmas trees and outdoor lights earlier and earlier. In some ways, there’s nothing wrong with the desire to instill a little Christmas joy in advance of the season. But the quick rush to decorate, buy presents, and celebrate in advance also risks forgetting the entire point of Advent.
Advent reminds us to patiently wait, watch, and listen for the coming of the Savior. Advent helps us turn from our sinful ways and begin the penitential process of preparing our hearts to receive the newborn Christ. But a culture which obsesses over productivity and efficiency sometimes too quickly jumps to its destination without enjoying its proper journey. This leaves us unprepared to receive the fullness of what God intends to bring us.
This Advent, instead of rushing around and frenetically anticipating Christmas, spend time in quiet prayer and reflection. Bring an advent wreath into your home and light a candle each week. Sing and meditate upon the many Advent hymns which orient our hearts to the birth of the Lord instead of the triumphant Christmas music which has its place after December 25. Finally, avail yourself of the sacrament of reconciliation to “make straight the way of the Lord.” Doing so will not only position you better for the coming of Christ at Christmas; it will bring you the peace He wishes to give you.