What are your favorite Advent traditions? I’m always on the lookout for new ways to celebrate this beautiful season. We’ve always enjoyed decorating our house, opening an Advent calendar, and listening to classical Christmas music. But we’ve also started, in more recent years, to light Advent candles and now Dub and Nate read the Advent devotional that I wrote a few years ago. When we lived in Virginia we were privileged to have two incredible events at the boys’ school — a night of Lessons and Carols and a mini concert from the President’s Own Marine Band (one of the members also had children who attended the school). I also love opening Christmas cards and hearing how old friends are doing. But no matter how much we anticipate the birth of our Savior, and try to appreciate the greatest gift ever given, it never seems like it’s enough. I want to savor the lights and the beauty and the peace, but always feel like I fall short.
I think that sense that it’s never enough is inevitable. I can’t, in my fallen state, ever truly appreciate the magnitude of Christ’s birth. My purpose and destiny are wholly dependent on Him, but my efforts to fully recognize this in my day-to-day, moment-to-moment life are pitifully inadequate. Still, I believe acknowledging my indebtedness includes fully embracing the gifts of this life, and they are infinite. Two gifts that I take for granted somewhat less than others are my gift for writing and my appreciation of humor. I learn so much from the process of writing. I feel happier and more fulfilled having written. Much like Eric Liddell’s famous quote from The Chariots of Fire, when I write, I feel God’s pleasure. And the same is true when I laugh.
For Thanksgiving dinner this year, it was just the five of us, for the first time ever. I was a little worried about how that would feel. Dub asked, “Have I ever had a single Thanksgiving without Caitlin (my niece, his cousin)?” If he has, it was once, more than a decade ago. We ordered a turkey dinner from a lovely — beyond lovely — Italian market in North Palm Beach. Then I made a few of our favorite sides. It turned out to be a delicious, festive, happy Thanksgiving. And so easy! I couldn’t help smugly thinking to myself, “Nailed it!” But, there was one misstep. The dinner came with a quart — a quart — of cranberry sauce! It could’ve fed 50 instead of five. We cracked up about it. On that Friday, I was reading on the bed and Will came rushing in, poker faced, with the leftover cranberry sauce in hand.
“C’mon, Girl,” he said, shoving a massive spoonful toward me. “We gotta finish it!”
Yes, we are an easily amused pair! And that may not seem like an obvious way to celebrate Christmas, but enjoying God’s gifts — using them and relishing each one — is a perfect way to embrace the season.
After all, “All generous giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or the slightest hint of change.” (James 1:17 NET). May we praise God for the lights, for generous giving, for every perfect gift, and for the fact that there’s never even a hint of change!