As usual, the Christmas season is bustling with activity. It started early this year because our team at work is providing Christmas gifts for a local family in need. This is something I cherish doing each year. I know we should be looking out for these families and children all year long, but at least we can make some kids smile on the morning of Christmas. I can see their faces in my mind—eyes wide open and smiles from ear to ear. And the parents must have a tug on their hearts as they see their kids enjoying presents like other American kids.

So in order to get presents for these kids, I needed to go to Toys R Us before Thanksgiving. Holy hell. A Saturday afternoon spent at that place in the holiday season is my version of what eternity in hell would be like. And to make things fun, God had a great laugh by making me go back to exchange both the gifts I got—on two different occasions. But I’ll tell you. It didn’t take away one bit from the absolute joy it is to give a gift to someone else. Especially a kid in need.

My nieces then asked a huge favor from me. They wanted to go shopping on Black Friday. I told them they owed me big. That was the day we were supposed to sleep in (or fake it while Grandma finds a way to make enough noise to bring the entire house out of bed). But no. I went shopping. On Black Friday. Kill me now.

After that I was beginning to have enough (not completely but near enough) of the material side of Christmas. That night we went to Longwood Gardens to see the Christmas displays. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend it. It’s so beautiful and the horticulturists who work there are master artists. Not just the display of lights but the various trees and flowers as well as the gingerbread houses and trains—oh my, it’s just so incredibly fun and breathtaking. I was so inspired I went out and bought more crap to decorate my house. Okay, so I wasn’t quite done.

But now, today, after spending a really fun dinner last night with friends and their adorable three-year olds, I started really thinking about the advent. I listened to a sermon online tonight about God’s will and plan for us and how we need to be ready and open for opportunities and to always seek His council before making decisions. So now I’m inspired for the right things. God. And preparing for this season when we celebrate the birth of Jesus. I’m going to light my advent wreath candle tomorrow and say a prayer. Something like this (note, this is something I got online from this Web site and it’s by Victor Hoagland, C.P.—the beginning part, the other part is by God via the prophet Isaiah):

As our nights grow longer and our days grow short,
we look on these earthly signs—light and green branches—
and remember God’s promise to our world:
Christ, our Light and our Hope, will come.
Listen to the words of Isaiah the prophet:

The people that walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those who lived in a land as dark as death
a light has dawned.
You have increased their joy
and given them gladness;
They rejoice in your presence
as those who rejoice at harvest,
as warriors exult when dividing spoil. Is. 9:1-2

Then all pray:

O God,
rejoicing,
we remember the promise of your Son.
As the light from this candle,
may the blessing of Christ come upon us,
brightening our way
and guiding us by his truth.
May Christ our Savior bring life
into the darkness of our world,
and to us, as we wait for his coming.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen

So I thank you God for pressing upon my heart the true reason for Christmas. I pray for all of you reading this that you have a joyous Christmas filled with love and mercy and time spent with loved ones. Especially those wonderful children who bring so much joy to our life.

Now please don’t go without enjoying a little laugh from an old sitcom, Laverne and Shirley. This is Lenny and Squiggy singing a powerful message about the holiday!