It’s Advent, not Christmas…that’s what I tell myself

I’ve lived long enough to know better, but I still entertain fantasies that the Christmas decorations will go up in a perfectly clean house.  The truth is, my standards and energy levels are going lower every year.

In my idealized world, the screens will come off the windows and the windows will be sparkling clean before I put the candles in the windows.  Sigh.  I used to actually do this.  This year, I slapped the candles in the windows with a little wish that I might get back to those windows to wipe the outside sills clean.  Forget about the screens.  Well, it might happen.  In a bazillion years, when I can afford to retire.

Some people manage to put all the decorations up in one mammoth weekend.  For me, they go up in stages.  I actually like this approach.  It makes decorating an Advent activity, preparing for the  twelve days of Christmas which begin on December 25, rather than celebrating Christmas from Thanksgiving until December 26.

One of the nuns from my childhood taught that the Advent season was the time to prepare our hearts for Jesus’ coming.  She likened it to preparing our homes for Christmas.  That always stuck with me–Advent as the time of preparation.

The nun, however, neglected to mention all the boxes.  I have boxes of Christmas decorations all over the house.  Boxes filled with boxes, to be precise.  Clear Tupperware storage containers, red-and-green Christmas storage containers, and not a few big plastic trashbags filled with wreaths, and tree ornaments, and lights, and Christmas-y do-dads. I can’t put them away until I’ve emptied them.

This would be easier if putting them away didn’t involve my husband climbing an extension ladder to get into the attic.  In the idealized world, we’d have a pull-down ladder so I could go into the attic whenever my little heart desired.  My grandmother had a very cumbersome entry to her attic.  It involved climbing up the shelves in her linen closet.  It was crazy, but an eighty year old woman could do it.  I, however, cannot get into my own attic.  And so, the Christmas boxes are in the hallway until I can convince my husband to climb back up to store them for the season.  There is a good liklihood that he won’t be convinced, in which case, I will be stacking the  boxes in my office for the duration of the season. And firmly closing the door against curious guests.

I could not survive without doors to close.  I’m not sure what that says about my spiritual preparations, except to say that I’m pretty darn sure I’m stuffing a lot of spiritual stuff in closets, too.

When my kids were still kids and living at home (as opposed to being adults and living at home), I used to do a lot of screaming on Christmas Eve.  “Santa will not come until your rooms are clean!”  It was a desperate move on my part, and for a few brief years even effective, although we all knew that Christmas was coming whether or not the rooms were clean.

Ha–that’s the point.  Christmas is coming, ready or not.  Jesus came, whether Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds were ready or not.  Jesus is coming, ready or not.