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How To Do Advent Right

It’s been many months since I last updated. During that time, I’ve moved halfway across the country and added a fourth child to our family.  So life has been busy! 

The season of Advent has it hard. When Christmas lights—and Christmas presents—take over store displays the second Halloween is over, and radio stations start playing old timey carols before the last bite of Thanksgiving pie has been eaten, Advent can seem a bit sour. Like a mournful little voice saying, “But it’s not Christmas yet! Don’t enjoy those Christmas lights! Don’t sing along to those carols! Don’t nibble those Christmas cookies! You’re supposed to be sad right now!”

But while there may be spiritual as well as health benefits to holding off on the Christmas cookies until after midnight on Christmas Eve, if that’s all we’re getting out of Advent, we’re sadly missing the point. 

Advent’s purple is more about preparation than penance. 

Preparing for what? Well, for Christmas. For the coming of Jesus. 

So, imagine Jesus was coming over to your house, what would you do? 

I know I’d do a pretty thorough cleaning. Mop all those floors. Try to clean up that clutter that keeps piling up on the counters. Wash the windows. Empty the trash. 

Then, I’d start decorating. Try to make the house as inviting and attractive as possible. Put up some nice pictures, get some flowers. 

And then I’d try to plan an amazing dinner menu. The most delicious foods, the best dessert, the finest wine. Perhaps I’d invite other guests, too, if I thought Jesus would like a bigger party. And a gift. 

It would be a lot of work. It might be stressful. But one thing it wouldn’t be is sad. It would be exciting, anticipatory, even fun. Something I’d want to get everyone in the house involved with. 

But Jesus isn’t just coming into your home, he’s coming into your heart. So what to do? 

Well, start by cleaning. Advent is a great time to go to confession. It’s also a great time to declutter your life. What do you want Jesus to see when he comes to your heart? Is the last video you watched really what you want Jesus to see on your counter when he comes to visit?

And how will you decorate? Shining up the old good habits and developing some new ones. Maybe a habit of reading wholesome books is just what your heart’s coffee table needs for when Jesus comes for a visit. Or maybe a nice garland of kindness would look good on the window sill. 

Finally, the planned dinner, the party activities, the other guests. 

Advent is a good time to think about the future. It’s like New Year’s. A time to start new things. Do you need a new habit of prayer? Or a new friendship? A new way to bring God’s love to the world? 

Think about it this Advent. That’s what Advent is for. 

And if you’re doing those things, you can feel free to enjoy those Christmas decorations, those songs, and maybe even the occasional sneaked Christmas cookie. (After all, someone has to do quality control, right?) 

This post originally appeared on

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1 thought on “How To Do Advent Right

  1. Very good.

    However, most Christmas music and partying really should be saved for Christmas Eve and Christmastide, if for no other reason than we don’t want to be tired of it by the time Christmas comes. There is lots of great music appropriate for Advent, including innumerable settings of Ave Maria, the Magnificat, Alma Redemptoris Mater, Oratorios about Old Testament heroes, etc. Yes, Advent ought to be a time of joyful anticipation.

    Thank you and God bless you.

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