I love everything about Advent.
I love the preparations.
I love the colors.
I love the devotions and traditions.
And, most of all, I love the waiting, the pondering, the plea to Our Dear Lord to "prepare our hearts and make straight our paths" that He may come and we may be ready to greet Him!

This year, I'd been hoping for some sort of reflection, meditation, mantra, or "special something" to jump out at me so that I could carry it in my heart and think quietly upon it as I journey through the weeks of purple and pink candles with my family.

Little did I know that the "special something" would come to me through my very own daughter.

Laura is a lovely young woman of God. At age 16, I often find that she has insights and perspectives far beyond her years. She is such a blessing to our family in so many ways and I thank God each and every day that He has allowed me to be her mother.

Our pastor recently asked Laura to write a talk which would be shared at the Ladies' Retreat in our parish; a retreat where I would be in attendance.

Laura's talk focused on the true meaning of Christmas and how our society needs to focus on "The Ultimate Influence" rather than the "public influence". She wrote about enjoying the "present moments" in our daily family lives and how the "rolling of the cookie dough and cutting out of snowflakes is far more important than we realize at the time".

I felt so blessed to listen to the words of this vibrant, young teen; who obviously loves her God and family very very much.

But, it was the following statement at the end of Laura's talk that seared straight through my heart; and I realized that I had found my perfect Advent meditation.

She wrote: "Rather than trying to make the best of each Christmas, I believe that I should try to make the best of myself, during Christmas".

Therein lies the essence of Advent. Therein lies the "special something" my heart was yearning for; and it was given to me by my own child.

We are to try to make the best of ourselves.

It's not about making the best of the day. It's not about making the best of our finances or decorations or events or meals or celebrations. These all have a place and, if kept in proper order, can add to the richness of our Christmas.

However, the most important...the most significant...the most crucial aspect of Advent and Christmas, is to try to make the best of ourselves so that we are truly ready to greet our Infant King!

As we hang the ornaments, we must also remember to "decorate our hearts" with kindness, forgiveness, love, and compassion. As we clean out our cupboards and scrub our floors, we must remember to "clean out our souls" by embracing and attending the Sacrament of Reconciliation; to rid ourselves of pride and selfishness, to let go of hurts and move beyond our faults and sins; to die to self that we may live in Christ.

"The Ultimate Influence" came to us as a helpless, defenseless babe.
We too, are helpless and defenseless without Him.

Advent, the season of preparation and waiting, is a golden opportunity to admit that...and to make the best of ourselves so that we may humbly approach His manger and give Him the gift of our love.

Won't you ponder these things with me in the weeks ahead?

Copyright 2011 Judy Dudich