Home Sweet Home, There’s No Place Like Home, Home is Where the Heart Is and then there is the favorite around this time of year, Homecoming. There exist many sayings and celebrations around the home. So much of your identity comes from your home and for the first time in my life my home is feeling empty. I walked into my parents house recently and truly felt both my parents were gone, passed on. In their house I felt for the first time a solitude like never before and definitely a solitude I had never recognized inside my childhood home.
This time of year and the absence of my parents is reminding me just how important our ties to family and our faith are in making a home, your home. This year this season is telling me that my parents home is empty and it is up to me to carry on that family feeling of home in my house. Home needs to be where my heart’s focus is now more than ever.
Advent season, the four Sunday’s before Christmas, is the perfect time to refocus my efforts around my home. Advent is approaching quickly so it is best to get a head start before December 3rd. Advent happens during one of the busiest times of year. During Advent we are asked to slow it down and devote more time to prayer and reflection. Each year this seems unattainable with busy schedules around work, school and children. In my previous work, I was unable to slow it down especially around November and December because as everyone knows the holiday season is the busiest time of year for marketers. But this year I am making it a point to start out early and plan some thoughtful Advent activities for my family and especially for my children. This year I want to take the time to enjoy and celebrate the coming of Jesus in my home like never before.
Our faith asks us to take our time preparing for Jesus’ arrival and not to rush the season through so fast. When you take a good look at the purpose of slowing things down, it begins to make sense. Taking more time to reflect on the meaning of the season and contemplate the approaching arrival of Christ helps us to see this waiting period as the period where a world in darkness awaits the light of its chosen King to arrive. Stepping away from the busy pace of Christmas, and our lives in general, gives us time to think about how our world is and how we wish it could be, how we are and how we wish we could be. Advent is when we can celebrate Christ’s coming on Christmas and a time when we can continue to prepare for his second coming. The spirit of Advent is in the longing and the preparation for the coming of the one that is to save us. It is celebrating a truth about God, the revelation of God becoming man in Christ who came to save us and reinstate our relationship with God. We have to take it slow so as to give ourselves time to take it all in so that slowly we can experience a change and a transformation within us.
With a new slower pace I am going to focus on new Advent traditions. This year will be the first year my family creates an Advent calendar. I am saddened to admit it but I have never done this sort of activity around Advent for my family. We have only celebrated with an Advent wreath and that is only because my kids came home with one from school. Taking things slower this year will definitely include making a calendar. In this calendar I plan on celebrating the joy of Christ’s love in daily readings and reflections chosen by none other than me, the Mom. I may also provide a small gift or note asking my kids to do a good deed for the day. I want each day to count as a memorable day and one that helps my kids grow in their faith and reminds them to always give to others.
Secondly I want to celebrate my parents and all parents, specifically Joseph and Mary. Joseph and Mary were faithful Jews and they too longed for a messiah. In faith they said yes to God. They traveled over 70 miles from Galilee to Bethlehem and probably learned to travel light. They took only what they needed to provide for their new baby. The Holy Family demonstrates how we too need to leave behind the baggage that is weighing us down on our road to meet Christ. Joseph and Mary did lots of work in preparing for their child and probably did so in a prayerful way knowing that they were preparing to receive our Savior. I want to reflect on their journey and their work as parents so that I too remember what it is like to celebrate simply, carefully and meaningfully knowing that the work I do is for my husband, my children, the ones I love and it is work that should be offered up to God. This year I will set up a nativity scene (the one that belonged to my mother) but first only with Joseph and Mary. I want to give time to reflect on the roles that we as parents have in the lives and faith of our kids. I will hide the baby Jesus and add in the animals, Shepherd and others as Jesus’ arrival gets closer. I will take more time to deliver the story of baby Jesus’ arrival in a way that is impactful and memorable to my kids...and to me.
I have to be honest and tell you that every year setting up for Christmas in my home felt always like a chore. It became so much of a chore that I used to have my housekeepers set up the tree and decorations for us. I worried more about how it looked and less of what it meant. I am so disappointed to know that I allowed my family to experience the coming of our Savior in such a secular and meaningless manner. It took me this long and a complete turnaround in my professional and personal life to finally realize what I had been depriving my family of and just how un-Catholic I had become in a season when I should be drawing in closer to my faith.
This year Advent is going to save Christmas in my home. The holiday preparations will be slower and thoughtful. Scripture will have a more pivotal role and I won’t care so much about how things “look”. This year I want my home to be a Home for the Holidays and a home prepared to receive our Lord Jesus Christ this Christmas as well as a home prepared for Him the second time He comes.
Isaiah 9:2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.