Getting ready

12:21 PM

So, today is the first Sunday of Advent. Unfortunately, the boiler at church decided to stop functioning in honor of the first Sunday of the liturgical year, so *my* morning did not go as planned. In Sunday School we would have talked about how the church gives us Advent as a way of getting ready for the mystery of Christmas--but it was too cold. We'll talk about that next Sunday.

But even without my kids to talk to, the fact remains that the first Sunday of Advent has arrived, which means it's time to get ready. We get so busy at this time of year that by the time Christmas rolls around, we've missed the mystery. We're not ready.

So, how do we get ready? I was thinking about this last night. With the kids, "getting ready" in the classroom involves sitting on the floor, being still, and focusing on the story. It means being open to wondering. It's a little bit different for grownups. Sometimes, getting ready can mean being still and focusing on the story, but I don't know that this particular method works for all of us all of the time...or even if it's enough. Maybe we need to look out as well as in when we get ready. Maybe we need to spend a Saturday at our local soup kitchen. Or at the animal shelter. Or with friends and family members who struggle at this time of year.

One of my favorite ways of getting ready is putting together gifts for the giving tree. Every year, our church gets a list of people--Adult Female, Teenage Boy, Girl 6-9, Baby Boy--and we put tags on the tree so we can go shop for people who may be struggling at this time. I started doing this on a whim maybe four years ago, about the time I picked up knitting again. My thought was that I could knit a hat (I was knitting lots of hats at the time) and put together a bag of goodies for a child and "help someone less fortunate." So I took my tag (I think it was for "Infant Girl" that year), went out and bought the fluffiest pink yarn I could find, and knit a rather cute (though very simple) hat. Then I knit matching booties. Then I went out and picked up onesies and socks and a book and some sort of baby toy. I think it took four weeks to put that gift together. And I probably spent more time shopping and thinking about Infant Girl than I did in putting together gifts for my family and friends.

But, you know what? That year, when Christmas rolled around, I was ready. More ready, anyway, then I recall being in previous years. I think that may have been the Christmas The Beloved and I opted out of getting a tree, and so nothing felt particularly Christmasy--until we were opening gifts and I wondered if Infant Girl and her family liked the hat/booties/book/whatever and hoped above all hope that they were having a nice holiday and that they were warm and safe and happy. And it struck me that maybe it was more appropriate to wonder about Infant Girl and her well-being than it was to lament my lack of a tree--and that maybe Infant Girl was a part of the mystery of Christmas in a way that my own stocking was not.

Anyway. Today I picked up two tags--there didn't seem to be many folks coming up to choose names this year, which doesn't seem fair to the people who are represented there. But, I've brought home Baby Boy and Baby Girl. And now, I can start to think about what to put together for them--what they may need and what they might like. It's actually a lot more difficult this year than it's been in the past--you see, The Beloved and I have been hoping to add our own Baby Boy or Baby Girl to the mix and it's turning out to be a bit more challenging than we originally thought it would be. But that doesn't mean that the Baby Boy and Baby Girl represented by the little tags in my pocketbook don't need something. And it doesn't even mean that I don't need to be the one to do it this year. Maybe this year it's more important than ever that I put my own worries and doubts and disappointments aside so that Baby Boy and Baby Girl have something special--just for them--on Christmas morning, and so that I can be ready--ready for the mystery, ready for the light, ready for the magic that comes with the mystery of Christmas.

So, when I said that no one gets handknits for Christmas this year, I guess I lied. There will be something handmade for Baby Boy and Baby Girl. I'm not quite sure what they will be, but I hope they will be loved and enjoyed come Christmas morning. And, if my own shrug doesn't get done, well, I'm sure Christmas will still come to our house just as it did the year we didn't have a tree.

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