When I was a little girl we were Southern Baptists and, as far as I can remember, we didn’t do Advent in any official sense of the season. The seasons of the church didn’t actually come into my life in God until I became an Episcopalian. But, we did have the anticipation and the waiting. Oh, yes, the waiting and waiting and waiting.
Waiting for Christmas was always filled with such sweet misery and mystery. Oh, I can’t wait to see what Santa brought me. Oh, I can’t wait to open my presents. Oh, how many more days will I have to wait. As a child, while I knew that it was Jesus’ birthday, it was really all about the gifts I would receive. And, I think it was this waiting for my gifts and that sweet anticipation of waiting that has given me two wonderful gifts in my life.
That first gift is the gift of waiting. And not only waiting, but delighting in that waiting time. Whether we are waiting for a red light to change or waiting for our Christmas gifts, it is time given to us to savor. I use my waiting time to do crossword puzzles to keep my mind sharp or I use my waiting time to pray for those on my prayer list. If it’s a small bit of waiting time I may just sit and wait for God to touch my heart or whisper in my ear. Sometimes I even listen!! Given longer periods of waiting, like Advent or waiting for a long awaited vacation or celebration, I try to be productive, to plan life’s events, to enjoy the delicious moments in my life, to think of my children, my spouse, to enjoy a sunset (I’m not a sunrise person) and to appreciate each waiting moment. Some might call it meditation, I call it living in the moment. I have a sign on my computer that says, “This moment is the only time there is.” Puts things into perspective for me when I get impatient.
And the other gift I received from waiting for my gifts, was the joy of giving gifts. One day it dawned on me that if I enjoyed getting a gift so much, I could make others happy by giving them a gift. Anyone who knows me, knows I just love to give gifts. Small, large, tangible, intangible, of myself, of my time, of my talents, out of my riches, and even out of my poverty. Long ago I stopped waiting for my gifts. It was much more rewarding to give gifts to my friends, my family, my neighbors, and even a stranger here or there along the way of life.
Waiting through Advent these days is a joyful time when I shop, bake, or make something to give others to honor Jesus’ birthday. I’ve always told my children that we give gifts to each other as if we were giving Jesus his birthday gift! But waiting and gifting isn’t only for Christians or Christmas, but for all those special moments for which we wait and anticipate and for all the gifts we give and receive!
So, settle down, settle in, enjoy your waiting moments and always remember the best gift you give is of yourself, and the best gift you receive is the smile on someone else’s face!