As I started thinking about all the things I want and need to get done before Christmas, I realized that I need to set priorities in order so that the most important things get done first. I want to make sure I watch alllll the best Christmas movies, eat plenty of cookies, and visit all the cool Christmas markets in the city, and all those things are well and good, but if I put those things first, then Christmas will come and I won’t actually be ready to celebrate it. So here’s my shorthand reminder for keeping my priorities in order this Advent:
- Be Present
Week One—Pray: My focus this week will be making time to spend in silence with God. It’s so easy to ignore this and think of it as wasted time, especially when my to-do list is staring me down, but really this is the most important thing I can do to prepare for Christmas. Without quieting myself to just be with God and listen to what is really important, I can become distracted and anxious by all the noise and bustle of the season. The time I spend in prayer will help me better focus my energies during the rest of Advent; it will help me to see more clearly which things really matter and which things are okay to skip. One prayer that I’m going to incorporate into my Advent routine this year is the St. Andrew Christmas Novena—I only just heard about it last year, but it’s a beautiful, short prayer that’s meant to be said fifteen times a day from November 30 (today, the Feast of St. Andrew!) until Christmas. I prayed it last year, and I liked how the repetition of the prayer would calm me down and focus my heart on Bethlehem. I’m also receiving Bishop Robert Barron’s Advent reflections via email.
Week Two—Prepare: This is when I’ll focus on making sure that all of my Christmas shopping is done, that my apartment is clean, decorated, and ready to host a party, and that all of the logistics are in place for Christmas celebrations. I’ll make sure any year-end tasks or errands are finished so that I can rest and relax at the end of December. I’ll try to think of ways that I can make Christmas special for others, and I’ll look for ways to donate time, money, or goods to help those in need.
Week Three—Be Present: My roommate and I are hosting a Gaudete Sunday party this year to kick off the third week of Advent, which is all about rejoicing and reveling in the excitement that Christmas is almost here. During the third week of Advent, I’ll pay particular attention to noticing the beauty of the world around me and the spirit of the Christmas season in the city. I’ll take time to visit those Christmas markets, celebrate with my friends, and relish the moments of joyful anticipation. I’ll let my to-do list slide a little so that I can really enjoy New York in December.
Week Four—Prune: In the home stretch before Christmas, my first priority will be to make sure I get to Confession to prepare myself to welcome the Lord into my own heart. I’ll examine my attitudes and habits and do some last-minute adjusting before the holiday arrives, making sure everything is in order. And I’ll do the same for my to-do list—if any new tasks have popped up or if any cleanup needs to be done, this is when I’ll make sure that everything is taken care of.
Hopefully I’ll be able to stick to this plan! We’ll see how it goes :)