I love, love, love Christmas and Advent. The world just feels a little different: students and teachers everywhere long for Christmas break, the ground almost seems to cry out to be covered in a blanket of snow, and the church around the world awaits the birth of Christ. Of course, we know that Christ has already come, which puts us sort of in a constant season of Advent in which we watch and wait for Christ’s return.
During the Christmas season, we recognize our current state of waiting as humankind, and we remember the birth of our Savior. I love Advent. However, sometimes during Advent it can be hard to pay attention to what’s going on cosmically because we are so focused on what’s going on academically. In reality, this almost seems a little silly; we are overwhelmed with a few tests, while we ignore the celebration of the biggest event to ever happen in history until we deal with all the other stuff first.
I wish we all, including myself, took more time to pay attention to the big picture rather than our comparatively small stressors, especially during this time of the year. Here are ways to keep Advent more on the front of your mind. Even though most of these do not have a lot to directly do with the birth of Christ, simply celebrating the season we are in should always be a reminder of the reason that we do so.
- Buy a jug of eggnog. I always buy Dean’s and mix it with a little milk. Whipped cream. Nutmeg. The whole shebang. Go big here.
- Read an Advent devotional. There are about a million out there, but I love the one from She Reads Truth (here’s today’s, and they put out an Advent book every year that is super great as well!)
- Take your break from homework by turning on the 25 Days of Christmas on ABC Family. Did you know they play Christmas movies basically all day, not just in the evenings? This will impact my Saturdays in big ways.
- Make a Christmas craft to decorate your dorm room, house, or apartment. I haven’t gotten around to this one yet, but I’m hoping to this weekend! I made a cute red-and-green garland my freshman year, and I’m hoping to recreate something similar in the coming days!
- Attend Vespers.
- Bring your roommate a cup of hot chocolate when you know that he or she is working on a big paper or studying for an exam.
- Mix eggnog into your coffee. You might never need to buy coffee creamer ever again. Does anyone know if you can buy eggnog year round somewhere?
- Attend Downtown Holland’s Parade of Lights. I went this week, expecting a really short parade, but this one was actually almost an hour long! I really enjoyed it!
- Visit Santa at Home and Company downtown.
- Bake cookies for a neighbor.
- Make a Christmas playlist and listen to it as you pray for snow. Be sure to include the classics, like Jump5’s All The Joy in the World, Drummer Boy by Justin Bieber, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays by *NSYNC (that link goes to the music video, and if you’ve never seen it, you have to. It’s AMAZING), and most importantly, Johnny Mathis’s “Merry Christmas” album, preferably on vinyl. Seriously, if anyone finds a copy, my parents are looking for one.
- Find a cheesy Christmas movie on Netflix (Christmas with the Kranks, anyone?) and listen to it (or actually watch it if you’re really skilled) as you make crafts or do homework or cook instead of listening to music.
- Check out the Kerstmarkt (“Christmas Market” in Dutch) downtown. I’m going tonight and I’m so excited!
- Attend Advent church services, chapels, and the Lessons and Carols service (Sunday, Dec. 13 at 8 PM in Dimnent Chapel)! They are all going to be so wonderful!
- Stop into Lemonjello’s for an eggnog latte. I recently filled up a punch card and I’m waiting for the opportune moment to use it on one of these.
- Buy an Advent calendar (99 cents at Aldi!). Eat the chocolate as a daily part of breakfast.
- Take time to volunteer or serve others: Decorate cookies with the residents of a nursing home, pack meals at Feed My Starving Children, or simply make a donation to an organization that you care about.
- Take a trip to your nearest large city and appreciate the magic of Christmas in a big downtown! I love Chicago around Christmas. Be sure to check out Macy’s, the skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park (new last year!), Zoo Lights at the wonderful Lincoln Park Zoo (this year will be my first time going!), and Christkindlmarkt! PS, if you’re in Chicago and you’re looking for a place to eat, my FAVORITE is Coalfire Pizza. The trek out of the Loop is so worth it! Seriously, now that I’ve mentioned it, I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s so, so good.
- Call your mom/dad/grandparents/long-lost best friend.
- Take time to read the beginnings of each Gospel. While they do not all explicitly outline the story of the physical birth of Christ, they all tell stories of the coming Christ in distinct and significant ways. They are all so important!
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.
— Isaiah 9:6-7