This is the big weekend! My three children are in the local production of Scrooge. They have been working really hard for about a month in preparation for it. Each of them has given something up to be part of it. My husband and I have adjusted our schedules and the household schedules to accommodate it. It is a huge undertaking that the director does with 200 people in the cast, most of which are children. And every year they come back for more, they return for the same grueling last week of preparation. They “wear their smile until Sunday” as he tells them too. Everyone awaits with anticipation for the moment.We don’t think twice generally as we help our children prepare for these things, for sports for things with school. But many times we lose interest when it comes to the thing that they need most, which is the foundation of thier faith. In this I feel they are led to believe that these other activities are more important. It isn’t the message that we intend, but in a subconscious way it is the message that is delivered. It really doesn’t have to be one or the other though…there are so many ways to make both a priority. When it comes to preparing for Christmas if I am honest with myself, I have to admit that the time I spend in preparation for the more secular aspect of Christmas is far more than what I spend preparing for what it really means to me. Yet, what it really means to me is everything. Not the day, but the gift that was given me at birth; the knowledge that I am a child of God. The gift that was given me at Baptism; that I am part of the family of Christians. The gift that is given me every year that is the freedom of my Spirit to live in the love of Christ, the Spirit of forgiveness, of humility and of charity. When I am called to remember those who have less, those who do not experience freedom, or those who have lost their way, I am united once again in that one thing that defines me, which is the love of our God. Our God who calls and challenges us to not get lost in all of the distractions but to focus on these places where God is most likely present. Another way to put it is to “take time.” One reason I am doing this blog is because I am a creature of wasting time. I am known to lose the day one way or another. Here, I am forcing myself to right my wagon in some way. I have been bombarded with my weaknesses as of late, so the idea of taking time isn’t all that appealing. But I also know, that I want to embrace my weaknesses so that within them I can also get to my strengths. (Does that even make sense??) What I mean is that if I take an honest assessment of how I am living, what my priorities are, what my conversations contain, then I am forced to make the sometimes necessary adjustments to get me to where I long to be. This journey of Advent is as much about giving time to me as it is giving time to God. It is also about bequething a tradition to my children in the hopes that it will sustain them as it has sustained me. I hope that anyone reading this is giving themselves the time that they need and sharing it with the ones who they influence. Only in that way, can we truly prepare to be open in receiving the greatest Gift of all.