There’s always someone who mentions Christmas in August, but I’ve become very good at putting things on my calendar and ignoring the seed of panic that’s planted.

At the beginning of November, there’s always a helpful person who will point out—not knowing about the landmine they’re about to thrust me into—that there are only X days until Thanksgiving, or Advent, or Christmas.

preparing for advent

I used to think that panic had to follow. But then, a few years ago, I made myself stop dreading Christmas for the four weeks prior. Instead of gripping the arms of my chair and screaming, I tried a different approach.

That approach involved forgetting that, to the rest of the world, the four weeks before Christmas ARE the Christmas season. I had to realize that Advent is worthy of its own preparation and it exists to help me better celebrate Christmas.

Advent is a time of preparation.

Just as I go shopping ahead of time—lists in hand—before I make a big family dinner, so the Church year, during Advent, gets us all ready for the big feast of Christmas.

Christmas is pretty incredible. God became man! And it leads us, naturally, to reflect on how Jesus, that tiny little Christmas baby, also gave himself for each of us on the Cross and then rose on Easter.

It’s all too easy to get caught up in the things that can be done, things that feel like they should be done. It’s tempting to focus on Christmas and forget that Advent is about preparing to celebrate, not about celebrating. Not yet.

When I look at Christmas in light of what it is—a huge, awesome feast—I end up overwhelmed. There’s just too much.

Advent requires a lot of doing, but I need to remember not to add to it and make myself dread this season of joyful anticipation.

Savor the moments and keep it simple.

There’s always next year, and if there’s not, what do I gain by making this year a rat race?

Copyright 2013 Sarah Reinhard