Advent.

Last year’s Christmas tree.

Today is the last day of November, and with it brings all kinds of expectations for the next month, in a way that the last day of every other month of the year does not. Last day of July? I feel nothing for August. Last day of April? I am trunky for the end of May, but I don’t feel any expectations outside of making it to the end of the school year with my sanity intact.

I am not decorating for Christmas this year. Just am not “feeling it,” despite listening to Christmas music and an occasional guilty pang that my grandma’s gorgeous ornaments are in a box in my closet instead of on display on my tree. 
I’ve been thinking the past few weeks about why I loathe Christmas so much, and those reasons are a bit too raw to share publicly. But I want to try and change all these long-held negative associations with the holiday. I’ve spent the past two years trying to embrace the holiday season with music or films, and while I still enjoy many of them, I still get to Dec. 25 feeling hollow.
We Mormons don’t really celebrate Advent the way other Christian faiths do. We do spend the entire month of December retelling the story of Jesus’ birth and singing Christmas carols and playing all of MoTab’s Christmas music. But formally, even though I grew up with an advent calendar that gifted me a small treat each day, I’ve never really paid attention to what other faiths call Advent. So this year, I’m going to try.
I’m basing much of what I plan to do for the next month from this blog post by Rachel Held Evans. I have a different advent calendar, one that will force me to bring my scrapbooking markers out of storage and use them, and to create and reflect instead of get. I’ll listen to a different work from The Messiah each day. 
For this, the first day of Advent, Evans poses this question: “When I wake up on Christmas morning, how will I be different? How do I hope the meditations and practices of the season will shape me?”
I’m not going to answer that here, but I leave it for you to ponder as well.
This December, I will still go to a Christmas concert or two, and help out with the Gingerbread display at the Kanesville Tabernacle; I’ll watch A Charlie Brown Christmas and Elf and listen to my new favorite Christmas music. But primarily, I will spend this Christmas, this Advent season, reflecting on what it means to wait on the Lord, how He brings hope to all, and why it matters.

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