As I was ambitious (or annoyingly prepared) this year, it's Dec. 1 and I have:
-finished all my Christmas shopping, except for work Secret Santa and the group gift for my boss
-addressed all but 7 of my holiday cards
-written a witty yet informative holiday letter
-put up and decorated the "honkin' big tree" borrowed from my mom, complete with multicolored light design, garland, bows on the tips of the branches, and a LOT of ornaments.
-planned the holiday baking to commence this Saturday
So I'm ready for Christmas to be here already. Advent is the hard part. We wait... and wait... and wait. Four more weeks. Arg. The thing I do like about Advent is the wreath -- lighting a candle each week helps make the wait easier - it's a visual reminder that we are waiting patiently for Christmas. Plus it's a nice grounding point for reminding me what the holiday is all about for me - the birth of Jesus - that keeps me focused on the less commercial aspects of the holiday. The tradition of hanging the tree with family ornaments and gifts from friends, the care and love I put into all the cookies I bake and don't eat myself, the quiet time spent with family.
Unfortunately, Christmas also brings up some not so fun memories as well, since it's the time of year when my grandfather passed away - he just held on past Christmas in 2000. So it's been five years this Christmas. Those memories are bittersweet though, because it wasn't an unexpected death - he'd been sick and avoiding most treatment for a long time. So those memories are a reminder that life isn't a dress rehearsal - you can't just sit waiting for things to happen to you, for the transition from this life. Although waiting patiently is a good approach for those things we don't have control over, you have to balance that with the willingness to jump in feetfirst to life's adventures that you do have control over. To paraphrase a quote from The Ripples Project, I like to think he slid in headfirst to the next part of his existence, thouroughly used up, and exicited for the great ride he'd had - because it was a great life tha t he finished out. That's how I want to go out - ready for the next great adventure.
Anyway... here's to the rest of the holiday season... 24 more shopping days!