So we have 28 days to prepare for Christmas.
I’ve written at other times on the spiritual gift of silence and the blessed waiting we’re supposed to cultivate during this season of Advent. However, it is so easy — when we consider all we have to do in the coming weeks — to become consumed by the to-do list.
So I created this reminder to help me be mindful, to be more like a candle burning than a blinking LED light.
(Ironically it takes the shape of a to-do list, but it’s more of a “how to be” list).
I hope it helps each of us, when the busy-ness of life threatens to make us feel, that “it’s all too much, and I have no room in the inn.”
12) Give alms. Whether by donating things or treasure, give a gift to those in need, taking from what you planned to spend. It will retool your thinking, and help you recognize your own tremendous gifts.
11) Read. Reading even a children’s book quiets the mind, because you cannot multi-task when reading. So read to your children or your spouse or yourself. It can be a Christmas book or another book, but it will help you stop, and be still.
10) Pray. It seems flippant, too easy an answer, but it is the actual way in which things change, in which we can be changed, to be more like Mary than Martha. (I’m always in danger of being overwhelmed and anxious about many things.)
9) Listen. Put on Christmas music. It will brighten the house and again, allow you to keep going with a constant reminder of why you are doing all of this; (Tip: Get some good stuff so you’re not stuck with the station playing a 54-song track including three versions of Santa Baby and Last Christmas.)
8) Make a list. Santa does this, and he gets much more done in one day than you do. So stop pretending you have to keep everything in your head. The think-system doesn’t work for your kids, and it doesn’t work for you. Write it down. It will help with the prioritizing of things.
7) Call a friend. Pick a friend a day, say hello, say you’re thinking of them, say you miss them, and listen to what’s going on in their lives. Be present.
6) Write a letter. No one gets mail anymore. It’s a treasure. It also gives the opportunity to let someone know how important they are to you.
5) Take a nap or go to bed early. Exhaustion leads to anger, despair, overeating, overspending, overreacting — being unable to give of one’s self.
4) Exercise. I know I hate it. I know it’s good for me. It also is a proven de-stressing technique.
3) Pick a person in your family each day to do something for, so as to show that person without telling them, how much you love them. Also, tell them you love them with words.
2) When the list threatens to overwhelm, ask for help. If you tend to wait till the tipping point for this, don’t. It’s a lot easier to ask for help when you are not overwhelmed, than to feel desperate and begging.
1) Go to adoration. You’ll be imitating the shepherds, kings and angels, coming to adore Him.
Advent will speed by, but by doing these things, you will spend the time as you should — waiting for the day of Our Savior’s birth, as for someone we’ve always loved, but whom we’ve yet to see face to face.