Thursday, December 4, 2008

Bah Humbug

I have to admit, I had a bad attitude about advent this year.  Yes, even advent-calendar-making, gingerbread-house-decorating me.

I was tempted to not even decorate our apartment. My thought process? Its already early December, and we leave here to spend the holidays with family on the 20th. And then won't return until early January. What's the point?

Josh and I did the Black Friday thing with my parents, and that was fun. Then my mom and I hit the fabulous indie stores on Wealthy and Cherry Streets the next day, and found some more cute things. But when I got back to Bloomington I started to get into anxious "list" mode. The yikes I'm totally overwhelmed am I going to get it all done feeling. I was torn between wanting to go against the hyper-consumer side of Christmas and yet still enjoying the retail hustle and bustle. I feel convicted to simplify my life, but don't know if that means cutting back on what I buy others. Plus, the economy could probably use my dollars right around now, right?  I just had that uneasy feeling about it all, and it put a damper on my joy for this season.

Then today I found myself on this website and was completely refreshed.  Have you heard of this movement?  It is called The Advent Conspiracy and they're all about getting back to what Christmas should be all about. They have set four basic principles for the season:

Worship Fully
Spend Less
Give More
Love All

Amen. Exactly what I needed to read/learn/remember. Especially that first part - the one about worship. Here is what the website has to say about it (and I totally encourage you to go there and read more):

It starts with Jesus. It ends with Jesus. This is the holistic approach God had in mind for Christmas. It’s a season where we are called to put down our burdens and lift a song up to our God. It’s a season where love wins, peace reigns, and a king is celebrated with each breath. It’s the party of the year. Entering the story of advent means entering this season with an overwhelming passion to worship Jesus to the fullest.

I realized today that my uneasiness and worry and stress was clouding out the joy of advent. I had a git r' dun attitude instead of awe at the thought of God's incredible gift to earth. I forgot that there is something good and profound about a season of waiting in hopeful anticipation. I had made it about me (my worries, my shopping, my time), but the birth of Jesus deserves to be celebrated to the fullest. I'm so thankful that God didn't let me walk down that path for too long. His gift is too special to be overlooked.

Moving forward, I will try to simplify here and there. But I love giving gifts. I don't plan to go overboard, but I'm not going to feel guilty for buying presents either. I don't think that's the point. And as you may have noticed, I love making things. So that may enter in, too. Either way, there is freedom.

But what I really want to do is celebrate the birth of Christ. God loved me so much that he didn't want to be separated from me, and he sent his son to the world to die in my place. Incredible.

I'm going to enjoy every moment of time spent with family and friends. I'm going to do extra-special things with Josh and Riley over the next few weeks - even if it means something as simple as blaring Baby, It's Cold Outside in our apartment and dancing to it. And while I know that decorations don't really matter, I'm still going to put them up. Hope, love, and joy matter a lot, and lights and ornaments bring a little more of them into my life.

How's that for a Charlie Brown turnaround?

And for those of you purchasing presents for me this season, consider buying fewer. Let's do something fun together instead. Or, instead of a sweater, get me a couple of chickens.


Dave and Jenni said...

OK, so the video wouldn't play, but I went over to the advent conspiracy and saw it was there. Great post, Jess. We are doing the same thing - we changed how we're doing our advent calendar a little this year, we're buying less, etc. I'm glad you still found the joy of the season.

Oh, and YES, I'm going to be around after Christmas and YES I want to hang out. Maybe you and Josh could come over some night for coffee/dessert and games? We can hash it out over e-mail, but that would be so much fun!

Dave and Jenni said...

OK, just watched the video and it is amazingly thought-provoking!!!! Thank you SO MUCH for sharing this - when I have more time I want to check out the site even more because I think the idea of it is WONDERFUL!

Jeremy said...

Nice. Our church as a whole is actually participating in AC this year, and it's been awesome to see people challenged to celebrate differently and hear about what everyone is doing.

the buurstra's said...

That video brought me to tears. Wonderful. I'm going to go check out the website. Thanks for sharing this! Mind if I post the link on my blog to share w/ others?

Erika said...

Thanks for the reminder, Jess, it is sooo easy to get caught up in the frivolous and forget what we're really suppose to be celebrating. Amen and Amen, my friend.

Gram said...

G'pa and I have decided to make a donation in our grandchildren's honor to a particular ministry instead of cash or gift cards to each one this year so I was happy to see that you approve! There are just so many hurting people out there, especially this year. We'll let you know where "your" gift went! Loved this blog entry, Jess.

Laura said...

I couldn't agree with you more! I love putting up lights and decorations - not because it's to show off, but it makes me happier and more willing to give of myself. And I like what the video said as well - give more of myself! Thanks for the post!

Lynn said...

Really great post...thanks for sharing your thoughts.