Advent is a season of joyful anticipation for the birth of our Savior, Jesus. In the midst of all your holiday shopping, cookie baking, and home decorating, reflect on the waiting. What do you usually do when you're waiting -- waiting for the arrival of a new baby or for a guest at your home? When we think about Advent this way, we can understand why it's important to focus so much time and energy on our preparations for the coming of Jesus. Here are seven tips to inspire you throughout the upcoming Advent and keep you motivated in your anticipation of Christmas.
This seems like an obvious one, because music is all around us in Advent -- in Church, in school, on the radio -- but singing is one of the easiest ways to spread the joy of the Advent season. The word "carol" means a joyful dance that is set to music. You can even spread this joy by visiting hospitals and nursing homes and singing Christmas carols to the patients and residents. Focus on songs of waiting, like "O Come O Come Emmanuel" and "O Come All Ye Faithful."
In the Bible, Jesus is called "the living light of Christ," and so we bring this light to our homes every year. On the night of his birth in Bethlehem, the bright star in the sky which led the three kings to Jesus's manger is the inspiration for Christmas lights decorations and the most magnificent of all the lights. Put up lights inside and outside your home to signify your anticipation of Jesus.
3. Remember St. Nicholas
The tradition of gift-giving is so much a part of our Christmas culture today that we usually forget the true meaning behind it. The tradition of giving Christmas presents truly began with St. Nicholas hundreds and hundreds of years ago. His generosity inspired our current customs of leaving out stockings and awaiting the visit of Santa Claus on Christmas night. Test your St. Nicholas knowledge with our trivia quiz.
4. Avoid a Black Friday and Cyber Monday mindset
Focus on care, love, and thoughtfulness, not greed or competition when buying gifts this year. The first Christmas presents were gold, franincense, and myrrh from the Magi to the baby Jesus, and of course, the true gift of the Christmas season is God's gift of his son to the world. Instead of running from store to store in search of the perfect present for your dad, sister, or aunt, take a minute to stop and consider the real meaning behind your gift-giving. The purpose of this tradition is to show care for our loved ones. When we remember this, our mindset toward shopping completely changes.
5. Turn Moments of Frustration into Joyful Anticipation
It's inevitable that we will get frustrated "waiting" in different ways during these next few weeks: waiting in line at the grocery store, waiting for a parking spot at the mall, waiting in traffic. Instead of letting these unavoidable situations get the best of us, avoid anger by taking a moment to relax and reflect on this important Advent theme of waiting. Say a prayer or thank God for all your blessings this year.
6. Start a Family Tradition
Presents are not the only way to show our family members that we love them. The most important Christmas gift is our time. When you dedicate time to spend with family during Advent, you create and continue traditions that make the season so special. Decorating the house, baking, and gift wrapping suddenly become fun activities, not chores, when the whole family gets involved.
7. Have an Advent Wreath
This is another great way to bring the light of God to your home this Advent. An Advent Wreath has four candles that you light every Sunday of Advent. A prayer is said with each one, as well. To learn more about the symbolism of Advent wreaths and how to make your own, check out our previous blog post.