Back in August, I read that in some liturgical traditions, they don’t begin to decorate or celebrate Christmas itself until December 24 or 25. These weeks between Thanksgiving and the celebration of our Savior’s birth are reserved for waiting.
As the calendar neared December, and I started planning the ways we would observe the holidays as a family, I kept coming back to the idea of waiting until it was actually Christmas to do any celebrating.
My temptation is always to try to do too much. Other familys’ traditions all sound so wonderful, I’m afraid to leave anything out. I want to make Christmas candy and bake a birthday cake for Jesus, and go to all the parties, and teach my kids about Hanukkah, and go caroling, and celebrate St. Nicholas day, and do an advent wreath, and attend a cookie swap, and make a Jesse tree.
But I can’t do all of it. So as I sifted through all the ideas and my own desires, I wondered: what would it look like for our family to obverse Advent as a time of waiting?
To intentionally delay our celebrations and live in the tension of the now-and-not-yet Kingdom of God?
To seek out reminders that this world is not our home?
To store up treasures in heaven instead of earth?
I couldn’t move my friends’ parties, obviously, or ask the city park to wait six more weeks to put up their lights. And I could only avoid Caleb and Garrett seeing the Christmas displays at Walmart for so long. But I could figure out ways to bring an intentional waiting into our home.
As it turns out, forgoing the holiday trimmings has been a necessity as much as it was an intentional choice. When everything else is going into boxes, I can’t really justify bringing the Christmas things out of their boxes.
While moving at Christmastime has been stressful, I couldn’t ask for a more poignant reminder of waiting.
Truth be told, we’ve been waiting all year for the Lord to move in one way or another. Back in January, we had revival services at our church, and we knew then that this year was going to be a hard one of transition for our family. When we finally sensed the Lord leading us to close our church plant, we did so in faith, not knowing what would be next for us. When we sensed His leading to Nashville, we put our current house on the market, and made an offer on one in Tennessee.
Now, even though we have two houses under contract, the closing dates keep shifting, and the Lord is still, after eleven months, saying wait.
We are doing a few small things as a family to look to Jesus in this season, to anticipate His coming and joy that will be ours on Christmas Day:
We are unwrapping and reading one new Christmas picture book each day. (I’ve discovered a bunch of new-to-me treasures this year; I’ll share a full list of what we’re reading soon!)
We are lighting Advent candles every morning at breakfast.
We are listening to music that reminds us of the yearning the Israelites felt for the coming Messiah.
And tonight, we will begin this Christmas devotional during story time before bed.
Christmas is in twenty-four days, and I’m not exaggerating a bit when I say I do not know where we will wake up on Christmas morning. We could still be in our familiar Ozark home. We could be in our new house in Nashville. We could be somewhere in between. I really don’t know. I don’t know if we will have a chance to put up a tree or not.
God knows, though, our job for now (for always) is simply to wait on Him.
We won’t have to wait forever. At just the right time, Jesus came and broke the 400-year silence of God towards His people. When the time is right, He will come back for his church. And at some point in the meantime, I do believe that we will eventually, finally, get to Nashville.
But for today, we wait.
I know many of you are still praying for our family as we walk through time of transition. Thank you so much. Now that I’ve shared where we are at, I want to know: how are you celebrating Christmas with your family this year?