Halloween is over. You know what that means...2 months until Christmas! In retail world that translates in to Christmas decorations for sale, ads for deals on toys and other presents, and Christmas commercials galore.
People tend to fall on two sides of this - either they LOVE all the early Christmas commercials or they hate them for their liturgical inaccuracy. As someone who really loved studying liturgical theology, I completely understand the concerns.
BUT I also completely understand why people love the early Christmas music and commercials. And I think that, with the right mindset, you can find them less grating, too.
I have had two babies, two pregnancies. As anyone who has ever been pregnant will tell you, the final stretch can see to last forever. Personally, once I hit that third trimester, I feel like I'm home free...even if I still have three months to go!!! But you can't help it - anticipating a baby is exciting. Maybe some mothers are more patient than I am, but I can't help but getting geared up for birth and meeting my new baby a good 2-3 months before that fact.
And let's be honest - my preparation looks really different throughout that stretch of time. Right around 30 weeks, I start thinking about what I want to accomplish before the baby is born. 30-37 weeks is the span where I am planning, and trying to finish whatever needs to get done. But once I hit full term, the remaining weeks are spent mentally, spiritually, and emotionally preparing for what is coming. You can read more about how I spiritually prepare for labor and delivery here. As much as possible, I try to finish up any projects before that point, have the house mostly ready, make any purchases I need to make, and wash and fold baby clothes by that 37 week mark. (Because my pregnancies are chock full of nausea, I am ready to be done once I'm full term!!!!)
In a way, that's my approach to Advent and Christmas. Mary was pregnant for a full nine months, and I'm willing to bet that when she reached the beginning of November, she was tackling whatever last minute things needed to be done. Swaddling blankets made? Check!
That's my approach to November, and why I think the secular world isn't as off as one might think. We need this month before Advent begins, to complete our to-do lists. Christmas presents won't make/purchase themselves!
We can take it a step further, though. As Advent begins, we can turn inward with full term Mary, and prepare our hearts and minds for the great feast of the Nativity. Yes, we may have a stray present to buy, but all in all, our disposition should shift in the way a woman's does as she approaches labor. With Mary, we can become quiet and focused, as we prepare to celebrate the birth of her son.
But in the meantime, it's perfectly normal to be getting excited for what is coming. Christmas music reminds us to get done what needs to get done, because we are in the homestretch! If you take advantage of that, and allow joy to begin creeping in, you will be ready for the quiet anticipation of Advent. As with all things - turn what is of the world into something beautiful for God.