US Catholic Faith in Real Life

How to find Advent in the Christmas chaos

Slow down and be present to the Christmas joy that surrounds you.

By Annemarie Scobey-Polacheck | Print this pagePrint |
Article Your Faith

You won’t hear Christmas carols in church during the Advent season, but you will hear them everywhere else. How do we keep Advent a time of quiet preparation in the midst of a world that started singing “Joy to the World” the day after Thanksgiving?

One answer is to pull out your own Advent from the Christmas pieces that surround you. Slow down and be present to what you are hearing and allow the truth in the messages to ready your soul and lead you to find your family’s Advent in the midst of this busy season.

“The Little Drummer Boy”: If the drummer boy can play a drum for Jesus and be satisfied with that, we can be happy with what we’re doing, too. Am I a faultless mom? A perfect employee? Are these potatoes going to be the most delicious my guests will ever taste? Certainly not, on all counts. But by and large, I do my best for him. I play my life for him. Pah-rum-pah-pah-pum. “The Little Drummer Boy” can remind us that this Advent, whatever we offer is enough.

“O Come All Ye Faithful”: Triumphant is an outstanding word. Try saying triumphant without straightening your shoulders a bit. Seldom are we invited to the feeling of triumph. It seems a word reserved for winning the Kentucky Derby. Yet this song dares to begin, “O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant.” This song tells us that we’re welcome to feel joyful and triumphant simply because we’re faithful. This Advent, I’ll take it. And now I’ll write 17 more Christmas cards even though it’s already 11 p.m.

“Do You Hear What I Hear?”: Where it’s the Night Wind speaking to the Little Lamb or the Little Lamb asking the Shepherd Boy, everyone’s running his or her observations about that first Christmas past someone else. Regardless of how obvious the miracle is, we still need to ask one another, “Do you see what I see? Do you know what I know?” It reminds us why faith must involve community.

“What Child is This?”: I never hear the word lap in church. It’s never in the first or second readings, the Psalm response, or the gospel. It’s rarely in the homily. Yet lap is a word I—and most mothers I know—use every day. There’s something about the juxtaposition of “What child is this who laid to rest on Mary’s lap is sleeping?” with the line a few moments later in the song: “This, this is Christ the King.” Christ the King started his life in a lap. And in some ways this is the point of the feast of Christmas—to point out how ordinary and human Jesus’ beginning was. This song reminds us to prepare ourselves for this quiet miracle.


Some other suggestions from parents who pull Advent from the secular Christmas season:

“My kids and I make a point of never walking down a Christmas aisle before December,” says Carol, mother of four school-aged kids. “Doing this makes the kids feel ‘in the know’ about when our church seasons actually are. It also gives us a chance to talk about Advent and separate ourselves from what’s being done commercially for Christmas.”

“During Advent, I put out our unbreakable crèche and let the kids play with it,” says Denise, mother of three kids under 9. “They have the angels babysit the animals and Jesus while Mary and Joseph go out. I have resisted bringing more structure or meaning to their play in fear it would kill the joy of their imagination. But it secretly focuses me on the preparation of all those people who were brought to the manger.”

Originally published in them December 2009 issue of “At Home with our Faith.”

Image: Lukas Langrock on Unsplash

Wednesday, November 28, 2018