I was working on a season related project and the kids, after finishing their task, had migrated to the couch in front of the TV and had begun watching a show after a bit of fussing about what to watch at all because "there is NOTHING on!"
One child was particularly angsty because we'd made all indications that we'd be decorating the Christmas tree today and we'd not gotten nearly that far and she was both disappointed and determined that progress would be made before she was sent to bed. Her determination added a special challenge to our evening.
I was so over the day. The LAST thing my heart wanted to do was lean into this season of love and togetherness and my family gathered around the table humming Silent Night.
Ok, we don't ever hum Silent Night, but we do log some time around that table and I wasn't feeling it. I'd eventually found the beginnings of tree decor and Kate and I were making slow progress and soon my Man appeared with the Advent wreath and four sorry looking candles in his hand— he was on his way to the Christ candle to finish the set. Soon the call went out, "OK everyone, come in here for Advent!"
We gathered, I handed out pieces of fudge, given us by a friend, to fuel our focus. There was a new Advent book this year and it is simple and clear and easy
We spent ten minutes together all pondering the message of hope from Isaiah—our reading from last night. There was a candle with a flame and a happy child chosen to light it.
There was a seven year old reading the Scripture and stumbling over a word or two from behind bangs that need some attention. Fudge was eaten, prayer was offered, and the smoke from the extinguished candle marked the end of our celebration.
We didn't do it perfectly—we cannot.
We didn't do it grandly—we know not.
We didn't do it eagerly— we were not.
But there remains the simple practice of simply showing up and doing a thing and last night we just did that — we did the least.
It was plain and simple and soon over. We gathered and pondered the Hope of the coming Savior and we left the table a little more hopeful and a little more inclined to be less about ourselves and what we felt like (or didn't) and more about the reason and Giver of our Hope.
...I wish there were ten or a dozen Christmas-days in the year; for there is work enough in the world, and a little more rest would not hurt laboring people. Christmas-day is really a boon to us, particularly as it enables us to assemble round the family hearth and meet our friends once more. Still, although we do not fall exactly in the track of other people, I see no harm in thinking of the incarnation and birth of the Lord Jesus.
~Charles H. Spurgeon~