Overdoing Advent

by Heidi Schlumpf

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Is it just me, or do more people have their Christmas trees all decorated, their lights all up and their shopping all done this year? More and more of my Facebook friends seem to have finished their Christmas preparations before the Thanksgiving leftovers are even gone.

Perhaps I'm just envious of others' organization, but I'm feeling the need to overdo Advent, in part as a protest against the excessive Christmas spirit in our culture that precedes the actual Christmas season.

We haven't bought a tree yet, haven't responded to any of the dozens of promotional emails to order photo cards, haven't even mentioned the "C" word to our toddlers. And, perhaps unwisely, we did not put up our outside lights during the unseasonably balmy Chicago November.

But our home is giving Advent the triple whammy--an Advent wreath on the dining room table, one of those paper Advent calendars with windows to open (alas, no chocolate, just Scripture verses) and a felt Jesse Tree on the wall (a handmade gift from my sister).

Never mind that when we lit the Advent wreath for the first time, our almost 2-year-old started singing "Happy Birthday" and tried to blow the candle out. Or that the kids took every Jesse tree ornament out of the pockets and may have already lost some. Or that they did not listen to my reading of the Advent calendar Scripture verses. At least they're not talking about Santa yet.

It's one thing to complain that the "Christmas season" seems to start earlier and earlier every year. But I'm afraid, for some people, it's going to start ending earlier, too--like before Dec. 25. Can people really maintain enthusiasm for a holiday for more than five weeks?

Pardon me for mixing my religions here, but it's very un-Zen to jump the gun like this. Let's live in the moment--and that moment, at least for a few more weeks, is Advent.

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