What’s your favourite bit about Advent?
For some it’s the decorations – gold and green and red sparkling everything; with fairy lights and dark nights and setting your world a-glimmer with beauty and wonder.
For some it’s the tastes and smells – chocolate and peppermint and mulled wine and mince pies; a warm world redolent with spice and indulgence.
For some it’s the weather – being able to snuggle up indoors and know that the weather outside is frightful but they don’t have to go out in it.
For others it’s the people – the family and friends whose forms we get to hug and hold close; whose faces light up with joy at seeing us, and whose eyes sparkle with the fun and excitement of the festive season.
For a few, it’s even the incessant Christmas music!
For me, it’s the anticipation – the build-up, where everything is still in ‘preparation mode’. Pintrest fills with recipes to tempt and tantalise, crafts to do and make (and cause you wonder if your skills are sufficient to manage *any* of them). Shops fill their shelves to bursting with gifts, and the media overloads us with reminders to make sure that we don’t miss anyone important from our list. Carols are sung about the baby in the manger, and children squeal with excitement about Santa Claus and elves and magic. We stock our fridges and freezers and cupboards and pantries with all manner of good things to eat and share with the people who pop round. We exude hospitality and bonhomie (and perhaps a little seasonal stress). And there will be PRESENTS!
That’s the big draw, isn’t it? The thing which (whatever the ‘roots’ of Christmas, and which tradition borrowed from which other) engages us all – it’s a festival where we get stuff.
We get presents. We get to over-eat. We get to see and spend time with the people we love. We get a day off work. We get to enjoy ourselves, guilt-free and with no strings attached, because CHRISTMAS, yo!
And why not? All of those things are good, and we’re made to find pleasure in these them – they trigger all the ‘happy’ parts of our brains and bodies for a reason. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, and I want us all to be able to enjoy the season to the very limits of our happiness. I want our cups to run over at the edges with joy and wonder and love.
But that’s not the whole story (and I’m fairly confident that if you’re reading this blog, you’re someone who would not only agree wholeheartedly, but who would also fully expect the very important Other Side to be given a fair say. And who would (I hope) be quick to step in and redress the balance if I skipped over it), because yes – it’s the season of abundance and indulgence, but it’s also about giving and altruism and taking care of one another.
I suspect that you already do something for others – the kind of people who rock up here and engage tend to be the type to want the world to be a better place, and who aren’t afraid to pitch in to make that happen – which is quite wonderful, and I’m thrilled at how many like-minded people I’ve been able to meet in this here Blogosphere.
But for Advent, I want to encourage you to be a bit more intentional. I plan to be, and I want you to help by holding me accountable. I want us to work together to make a difference.
If I stop and think about the troubles of my own life, I falter and start to see cracks at the edges. If I stop to think about the troubles my friends and family are enduring, I feel as though I’m going to be overwhelmed. If I stop to think about the troubles of all the people in all the world, I sometimes wonder how I make it out of bed in the morning, and how I have the audacity to even think that the challenges are surmountable.
If I stop and think, I find myself crippled.
I need to think less, and DO more.
Because if I DO more, then I can ask you to get alongside me, and DO something yourself. If you DO something, then other people will notice, and they might be inspired, and you can explain the reasons and encourage them to join in. If *they* DO something, then you and I together have started a chain of events in which at least Three Good Things will have been done, and that’s a START.
I don’t mind what you do, and I’m not advocating bragginess or self-promotion with this thing – it’s about making the world a better place, not making ourselves look good (I’m pretty sure that if you ask one of your friends, they’ll tell you you’re already fine as you are – I know for a fact that pseudo-saintliness doesn’t fit me in any guise) – but I genuinely think that together we can quietly go about our lives and make definite, tangible differences.
I’ve seen the power of the Blogosphere before, and it has stunned and humbled me – we truly ARE stronger together. I’ve seen campaigns succeed, people’s lives rescued, shattered situations rallied around and put back together, all through the connectedness of the internet and the willingness of people at the other end of the screen to stand up and DO something.
I want us to turn it around – I want the power to go OUT of the Blogosphere and INTO our towns; our communities; our homes, and make a difference there.
I’ll DO, You’ll DO, and They’ll DO.
Three Good Things. That’s all.
WE CAN DO IT!