It can be difficult to focus, however, during this pre-Christmas season. All around us: decorations and music and parties suggesting that Christmas has already arrived. If we are not careful, by the time December 24 arrives, we will suffer from Christmas-fatigue and will want quickly to dismantle everything and move on...when Christmas will have only just begun. In the life of the Church, whose perspective ought to outshine that of society, the Christmas season runs from Christmas Eve through the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6.
How are we to focus while on this Advent journey and, come Christmas, not already be fatigued by it? Well, be strategic with yourself.
- Prepare only that which absolutely needs to be prepared beforehand for Christmas.
- Try not decorating until later-including the tree. I can recall, as a young boy, a very devout Roman Catholic family in the neighborhood, the Galloglys, whose tradition it was to decorate their tree on Christmas Eve. I was fascinated by how focused and "counter-cultural" they were in this.
- What might Advent decorations be? Start with a crèche (manger), without the child Jesus in it, to be placed on Christmas Eve.
- Do not listen to Christmas music (until Christmas)!
- Engage in a service activity.
- Set aside special time to pray, to focus on Christ coming: welcoming Him now and expressing your desire for His Second Coming. If you struggle like I sometimes do to be focused in prayer, find help. I find it in the form of an occasional prayer partner and in guided prayer. I really appreciate, for example, what the English Jesuits offer each day: https://pray-as-you-go.org/home/#. Listen to their daily meditation during Advent.
With you in hopeful longing,
Co-sojourner in hope