I don't know if you've ever heard this but advent has been referenced by some as "a pregnant pause" before Christmas.
While it is easy to get caught up in the big lists of items we need to do in order to have the perfect holiday with family and friends, embracing the pause of advent helps us to take a step back, pause, and prepare for what we are about to celebrate.
When we know the date where something exciting is going to take place, such as a vacation, a date, or even a relaxing night in, we have something to look forward to. For some, the time of waiting goes by fast since you have the light at the end of the tunnel to look forward to. For others, waiting can be extremely slow, where every day feels as if it is dragging on and on and you will never reach the long-awaited moment you look forward to. Christmas can be the same way for people, especially after a very long year that may have been filled with multiple ups and downs, twists and turns, and now you have something familiar and comfortable to look forward to.
Christmas is a beautiful time of the year. No wonder there are so many songs written about how magical, festive, bright, and cheery everyone is. We all desire the magic and wonder that Christmas brings, but we hate the wait there is to get there. That is why so many people may start celebrating even before Christmas actually comes, then when it arrives it disappears overnight as if it never happened in the first place.
So what if we embraced the pause? What if we took a step back, a breather from all the hustle and bustle that is expected now, and just paused to prepare our hearts for what is about to come?
For those of you who have had a baby before, the same "pregnant pause" happens in the final month of waiting for your baby to come. While there is the difference in that you don't know the exact moment when your baby will decide that he or she is ready to born, there still comes that moment when you have physically prepared everything in your home and now you just feel as if you have to sit ideally, twiddle your thumbs, and endlessly wait for a moment to come.
These moments leading up are exciting, but if you don't take a step back to ponder and enjoy the last moments of what your family is now and take the time to prepare your hearts and minds for the coming of a new little soul into this world, you may miss out on many beautiful moments that happen in the stillness.
Physically Preparing vs. Mentally and Emotionally Preparing
There is much that needs to be done to prepare physically during these expecting moments in our lives. For Christmas, we love to buy and wrap gifts to give to our family and friends, bake yummy treats to share with others, send out Christmas cards of updated moments and memories to people we love to stay connected with, watch all the cozy movies, and of course, decorate our homes with light, smells, and beauty. I love doing all these things every year, but preparing for Christmas can't stop there. We need to remember what we are preparing for. Not just another holiday. Not just a day to see family, Not just a day to give gifts to others or to relax in our new PJs by the fire all day.
We are preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Son of God who decided to come into this world in the most vulnerable way in the most vulnerable place. To be born into poverty, a literal stable in the silent cold night in Bethlehem. We need to remind our hearts and our minds to be thankful for the very quiet but profound yes of Mary to having baby Jesus. We need to remember the why, why this season, this day is so important.
The same goes for preparing for birth. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the morning sickness, aches and pains, and discomfort in pregnancy. To be excited about the baby showers and beautiful photos to capture the ever-changing pregnant body. We need to remember the why behind the pregnancy. That there is a little baby, a new little soul who will be born into this world and be yours forever. That they will always be yours to love and cherish, nurture, and care for even when they grow up and move away. That you are responsible for this beautiful child and get to participate in the everyday miracle that is childbirth, something that may seem impossible to the mind, but is totally possible to the female body.
How to Prepare for Christmas
So in the final days leading up to Christmas, take some time to prepare your heart and mind. Some ways you can do this are:
-Read the Christmas narrative in the Bible in Luke
-Sit quietly each day for 20 minutes to ponder the miracle of the first Christmas
-If you are pregnant, try to connect with the pregnant Mary as she prepared for her own birth
-Find a great scriptural book to help you meditate
-Set up a manger scene somewhere in your house (leave out baby Jesus till Christmas Eve) and ponder where Jesus came into this world
-Listen to a podcast or speaker talk about advent or preparing for Christmas.
Especially if you are pregnant this season, while it may be hard to not be able to enjoy all the wonderful traditions that you are used to during this season, take this time to really meditate on the beauty and gift of your pregnancy and seek the comfort and familiarity with Mary, as she was pregnant this time all those years ago.
Enjoy these last few moments of the waiting, this advent season, and be intentional about pausing and preparing your mind and heart for the coming of Christmas.