‘Tis the season for debates about how to properly celebrate Advent. The stores have all been decorated since the day after Halloween. Your neighbors had their tree decorated the week before Thanksgiving. What should you be doing?

On the other end of the spectrum, you have people who refuse to play Christmas carols until Christmas day, and who decorate their trees on Christmas Eve. Their approach is one intended to counter the secular world’s crush into Christmas.

Liturgically speaking, Advent is a time of waiting and preparation for Christmas. In some ways, a Catholic could embrace either approach, if done in the right spirit. It isn’t for nothing, after all, that Catholicism is said to be the religion of “both and”.

In order to celebrate Advent properly, we have to reflect on Christmas. What is Christmas, but the celebration of the birth of a child? What does a time of waiting and preparation for any baby look like? Well, some families will have the crib assembled by twenty weeks into the pregnancy, and the nursery decorated and ready to go before the end of the second trimester. Other moms go into labor and realize, “Shoot. I really should have set up the crib already. Do we have diapers?” Despite a difference in approach, both mothers will have prepared for the arrival of her baby, simply by the nature of pregnancy.

Those who adopt a child experience similar extremes — the foster child whose arrival you only knew about hours prior, and the child halfway around the world for whom you’ve been preparing for months. Every family waits and prepares differently. There isn’t really a wrong way to wait or prepare.

Read more at Catholic Exchange – http://catholicexchange.com/christmas-trees-christmas-carols-attempts-advent

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