You’re pretty burnt out by this point. You have one or two or five little Christmas elves actively undoing all you clean. Or you’re packing to go out of town and someone’s velvet Christmas dress doesn’t fit, nor will everything cram in the car.
Either you have your Christmas presents ready to go and are trying desperately to find places to hide them, or you don’t have them yet and don’t know when you’ll shop without the recipients riding around in your shopping cart.
Maybe your car is accumulating snow melt water on the floorboards as you drive from errand to errand. Maybe it’s not snowing yet, but the 40 degree rain is as bad. Maybe this was supposed to be your quiet, contemplative Advent.
On the radio, in the car, in the stores, at your kid’s lame Christmas concert, are fairly ridiculous secular Christmas songs. They jar in your head hours afterwards. But some of the lyrics linger:
“I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.
I’ll be home for Christmas, where the love-light gleams.”
Why are so many Christmas songs about home? It’s something I noticed while driving around snowy Western Mass a couple Advents ago, morning sick and homesick. Pip was in the backseat, J on a multi-state interview tour, Scout a tiny Charizard in my belly, and everything was in flux. The radio played, I drove to Target for pregnancy-craving beef jerky, I cried. There’s no place like home for the holidays, indeed.
Maybe you’ve had Christmases like that, where nowhere in particular felt like home, or you longed for Christmases past. (“They’re singing ‘Deck the Halls’ but it’s not like Christmas at all…“).
And now you have a home where the love-light gleams if only you could find it under half-written Christmas cards and cookie sheets that still need cleaning.
Advent is about making room, in practical ways, in lofty, interior ways. We give away toys, carve out space for the tree, try to find a little extra time in our day. We make space for the people, like Mary and Joseph, who needed a comfortable place to rest.
Embrace hygge. Embrace the shabby hospitality Mary extended to shepherds and kings alike. All you can do is what you must, as kindly as possible.
Advent can’t always be contemplative and slow, or picture-perfect, either, and Christmases can’t always be white. But if we look real hard, I do believe the love-light is there, in our homes, in our churches. And our work, as homemakers, to amplify that light, to keep it alive, is nothing short of the work of story and song.
“Make your house fair as you are able,
Trim the hearth and set the table.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the guest, is on the way.”