Christmastime is my favorite of the seasons because it carries with it a sense of hopeful anticipation.
(And okay, possibly also because gifts are my love language.)
It’s one of the things that I love most, the way everyone seems a little more in sync, hearts buoyed by eager expectation and Christmas cheer. I am like Buddy The Elf when it comes to Christmas. We flip the calendar to December 1st and I’m all, “First we’ll make snow angels for two hours, and then we’ll go ice skating, and then we’ll eat a whole roll of Toll House cookie dough as fast as we can!”
It really is the most wonderful time of the year.
Even that year we spent Christmas in a children’s hospital, mournful as our one and a half pound newborn baby hovered halfway between here and heaven, couldn’t steal away the spirit of the season.
The halls of a children’s hospital at Christmastime are decked with the requisite holiday decor, draped with festive greenery, all boughs of holly and sparkling symbols of the season. It is a jarring sight, the twinkling of the stories-tall tree and the oversized candy canes against the stark backdrop of sterile walls and scrubs. Slight bodies with sweet faces and bald heads pushed IV poles decorated with glittering tinsel down the hallway toward the activity center, where they could pin the nose on Rudolph.
The words children and hospital simply don’t belong together and I thought it seemed impossible to find joy there. How could you, really? There was merriness though, a Christmas cheer that transcended the pall of sickness that permeated the building. From walker to wheelchair, little faces radiated joy as they chattered about therapy dogs decked out in holiday attire and something called “One Direction.” (Apparently, it’s a boy band. I checked them out and they’ve got nothing on The Backstreet Boys. Quit playing games with my heart.)
I walked those halls, past a set of candy stripers dressed as elves decorating a window with press-on snowflakes, and I found my melancholy reflected in the posture of the other parents. We nodded in acknowledgement as we passed, lips pressed in a tight smile that did not reach our eyes. It occurred to me that we were all the same, each one of us desperately wishing for a Christmas miracle.
I pressed play on the mix of Christmas music I had brought and held my daughter’s hand as I sang a song of praise, an accounting of Christmas both then and now.
“A thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices.”
– excerpted from Anchored: Finding Hope in the Unexpected
The coming of Christmas is marked by Advent, a celebration of anticipation, looking forward to the arrival of Christ’s birth and the gift of hope that a tiny miracle brought to a weary world.
I knew about Advent calendars, mostly because they are filled with chocolates as you count down to Christmas and I am very much in support of traditions that allow me to consume chocolate every day for a month. I’m just super spiritual like that.
The liturgy of Advent itself had eluded me, buried under the tasks and to-do lists and tinsel. For the past few years I’ve made a more conscious effort to celebrate this season mindfully, creating space for the sacred, to savor the story of Christmas.
The first week of Advent traditionally reflects on the tenet of hope; seeking it, reflecting on it, embracing it.
I know all about searching for hope.
I know about how sometimes hope seems lost, when we feel adrift and unmoored.
And I know that it’s when we’re world weary and straining to see in the darkness hope is the thing that holds us constant, anchoring our hearts.
“We have this hope as the anchor for the soul, safe and secure.” – Hebrews 6:19
Advent is hope, a reminder of a promise that has already come to pass.
This year I’m inviting you to celebrate Advent alongside me and infuse a little hope + humor into our holidays.
An Anchored Advent is a series of short e-votionals that will arrive in your inbox each day during the Advent season. Each week celebrates the corresponding theme of Advent, with a cornerstone article each Sunday followed by a short daily email meant to help center our days and spread cheer.
And you know I love to keep reminders of the season around the house, so each week also includes a set of Christmas Conversation cards, designed to add festive fellowship to your family dinners as well as a free downloadable art Christmas carol art print. Because the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear 😉
Join me in celebrating Advent over the next few weeks!
Click here to receive your free Anchored Advent Celebration Set, which includes a set of family Christmas conversation cards, a set of 8×10 art prints, and a short daily devotion centered on the theme of each week of Advent. YES! MAKE MY INBOX MERRY!