december 2009

A Christmas scene, by Thomas Kinkade

Advent: The Season Of No Hustle, No Bustle

By Chris Bowler

(from the blog of self-described “professional tinkerer” Chris Bowler, software enthusiast. Check out his entertaining comments about and insights into new technology and related matters—such as the current Apple ad campaign—at

Over the past couple of years, our family has started a new tradition—partaking in the celebration of the Advent season. Celebrating the Christmas season has always been an important part of our year as my wife and I attempt to ingrain a sense of identity in our young family. But I feel like the past couple of years have been extra special as we've moved our focus beyond our traditional practices of celebrating Christmas to including a focus on this period of waiting and expectation that is the Advent.

All year ‘round, every night before the kids go to bed, we have a time of family worship. But during this season, rather than our usual activities, we read from a great book by Thomas Kinkade titled Christ, the Light of the World: A Devotional. It's a great perspective on viewing the Christmas season a little differently, accompanied by Kinkade's wonderful paintings.

As I read through the reading for day one of the Advent, this passage really stuck with me and I'd like to share it with you:

December means shopping, wrapping, decorating, baking, school parties, seasonal concerts and packages to get in the mail. For some people, the very thought of December invites exhaustion. The dates on the calendar are unyielding, unforgiving, never offering us more of what we thing we want and need-more time, more energy, more quiet, more of that elusive feeling we call the “Christmas spirit.”

For those who celebrate the coming of Christ, though, December has another dimension. With December comes the weeks of Advent. Yet, the month of December and the season of Advent are not synonymous; they are, in fact, radically different. December brings all the outward preparations, all that we have to do to prepare for Christmas. Advent is an invitation to an inward preparation, calling us to listen, to attend to the preparation of the heart. Advent calls us to stop—however briefly—all of the frenetic doing and invites us to come into an experience of the holy.

...Advent is an experience of anticipation, an invitation to prepare for the coming of the light of Christ into our world.

candlesHow does this fit in with a blog that focuses a lot on productivity? Well, it seems to be that in our already overbooked schedules and always connected lifestyles, the Christmas season can often just mean additional to-do lists and more work. Maybe I'm too much of a romantic, but I'd love to see that rather than a time of extra stress, this part of the year would be when we pull back and spend more time in quiet and reflection, evaluating what's really important in our lives.

Come to think of it, that would be a good practice for the entire year.

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