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holynightIf ever there was a time to rejoice in the Mysteries of our faith, surely Advent is it.  It is the time we remember Heaven invading Earth in the ultimate stealth move – the Lord of All, the King of kings entering time and space in an offensive move to deliver a death blow to the enemy…as one of us.  Starting, as all of us did, as a baby.

December begins with dark days, but as we contemplate this mystery, they can be glad as we anticipate the coming Light.

Or, they can be frazzled and futile as we go through the motions of fulfilling wild Christmas expectations, and miss the point.  I’ve done both, and I recommend the former.

Jesus as an adult said “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath”.  Our family together has opted for a “Christmas was made for people, not people to do Christmas” approach.  We do what it blesses us to do, what draws us most into a sense of wonder and family closeness, and what we are able to do with present resources.

The key is to establish traditions that nourish our spirits, and let go the ones that don’t.

Becoming a monk a few years back, I knew I wouldn’t be able to ‘do’ Christmas to the degree that I used to, as I continued in spiritual disciplines over the holidays.  I inquired of my family what Christmas traditions they considered of utmost importance.  They let me know what baking and activities and even decorations meant the most to them, and so these we have kept.   The rest, we have not .

It’s good to know that the Christmas effort I put in really does matter to them, and to me.  Some things that speak to me deeply do not to the rest of my family, so I’ve become ok with going to events by myself as well.

I’m not qualified to tell each of you what would make Christmas most meaningful in your lives, but I encourage you at the very least, pay attention this year.

What was wonderful?  What was not?  What really mattered?  What really didn’t?  Ask these things of your family as well.  You may be surprised at their answers!

Above all, don’t do Christmas on autopilot, making an idol of ‘what we always do’.  Focus on the Mystery, and on loving your family and fellow humans.  Let the way you keep Christmas be in response to that.

Simple, right?

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One Response to “Intro to Advent: Simplifying Christmas”

  1. Jacqui says:

    Ah – this is beautiful, Quinn. I love what you say about keeping only the traditions that nourish us. Thank you.