Free shipping on all orders over $75🎄

By all accounts, 2020 has been a rough, rough year. It’s no wonder so many of us started getting our Christmas decorations out in October. We are craving joy and comfort. And since we are spending more time at home than usual, we long to bring that sense of peace into our lives that comes from a softly lit Christmas tree, the sound of carols, and the smell of cinnamon.

It has been said that we need Christmas now more than ever, and I get that. I do.

But I would also argue we need Advent now more than ever, too. 

In the secular world, the Christmas season has traditionally commenced right after Thanksgiving. Although, through the influence of clever advisors, it seems we are urged to begin the season earlier and earlier each year. From a marketing standpoint, this makes sense. The more days there are in the “Christmas season,” the more days people are shopping. And while I’m not suggesting we don’t get our shopping done early or that we shun all Christmas fun until December, there is something to be said for giving Advent its proper due. 

Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas—which is usually the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Advent is also the beginning of the Christian year, according to the liturgical calendar, which is observed both by Catholics and by many Protestant denominations. 

Advent is a time of waiting and of preparation.

While the rest of the world is focused on shopping, parties, and decorating, Christians have traditionally used these days before Christmas to prepare for the coming of Jesus—as a baby in the manger, into our hearts today, and at the end of time. 

In many churches, scripture readings during Advent are focused around the theme of hopeful waiting. In the gospel of Mark, Jesus reminds us to be watchful and alert. Saint Paul encourages us as we wait on the coming of the Lord. We hear the Old Testament prophecies about the coming of the Messiah, and we read in the New Testament about John the Baptist and how he prepares the way for the Lord.

In our homes, we light the candles around our advent wreaths. Some families put up a Jesse tree, which tells the story of God’s relentless pursuit of us from creation until the birth of Christ. Many of us read a specific advent devotional book or say specific prayers. And while Advent is not a penitential season like Lent, in order to prepare for our celebration of Christmas and for Christ’s coming, Christians are encouraged to reflect on our lives during Advent and repent of those things that keep us from following God’s will. 

In some families, most of the trappings of Christmas—decorating, listening to carols, hosting parties–are delayed until closer to the 24th. One point of this is to add to the sense of anticipation and, as a result, to add to the sense of joy when the big day finally arrives. 

This time of waiting for Christmas also mimics our life as Christians. Because of Jesus, we have hope, and we have joy. But our hope is yet to be fulfilled, and our joy is not complete. By waiting to fully celebrate the coming of Jesus until Christmas, we are reminded that the joys and sufferings of this world are nothing compared to what is to come. Advent encourages us in hope and in perseverance. 

That’s why this year we need Advent more than ever.

That isn’t to say we can’t go ahead and put up our trees or that we have to hold off on listening to our favorite Christmas playlist. We want and need to celebrate right now. But no amount of twinkle lights or Christmas music will really heal us. Advent is about our hope that Christ will lift us out of suffering and darkness. Christmas is the celebration that has He already lifted us by coming to live among us and that He will in finality when He comes again. Advent is about hope, and Christmas is about joy. We need both right now. And the better we prepare in hope, the better we will celebrate in joy. 

The good news is that, although liturgically speaking, Christmas doesn’t begin until December 24, it also doesn’t end for 12 whole days when it wraps up on the Feast of the Epiphany. So, not only does following the Christian calendar and traditions give us time and space to prepare for the coming of Jesus, it gives us a Christmas that lasts more than just one day. That is something 2020 could definitely use. 

This year we absolutely need Christmas more than ever. We need Christmas trees and holly and presents and fudge—lots and lots of fudge. But in our rush to seasonal joy, let’s not forget to prepare for our ultimate joy. May we all have a blessed Advent and a Merry Christmas!

Read our beginner’s guide to observing Advent to get started today!

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Laura Hanby Hudgens

Laura is a junior high teacher and a freelance writer. She lives on a buffalo farm in the Arkansas Ozarks where she enjoys cooking and baking, which is also the key to bringing her busy family together. Her work has appeared on The Washington Post, Huffington, Post, Grown and Flown, Aleteia, ChurchPOP, and elsewhere. Find out more about Laura here.

Your Husband Needs Friendship Too

In: Faith, Friendship, Marriage
3 men smiling outside

As the clock inches closer to 7:00 on a Monday evening, I pull out whatever dessert I had prepared that week and set it out on the kitchen counter. This particular week it’s a trifle, but other weeks it may be brownies, pound cake, or cookies of some kind. My eyes do one last sweep to make sure there isn’t a tripping hazard disguised as a dog toy on the floor and that the leftover dinner is put away. Then, my kids and I make ourselves scarce. Sometimes that involves library runs or gym visits, but it mostly looks like...

Keep Reading

This Is Why Moms Ask for Experience Gifts

In: Faith, Living, Motherhood
Mother and young daughter under Christmas lights wearing red sweaters

When a mama asks for experience gifts for her kids for Christmas, please don’t take it as she’s ungrateful or a Scrooge. She appreciates the love her children get, she really does. But she’s tired. She’s tired of the endless number of toys that sit in the bottom of a toy bin and never see the light of day. She’s tired of tripping over the hundreds of LEGOs and reminding her son to pick them up so the baby doesn’t find them and choke. She’s tired of having four Elsa dolls (we have baby Elsa, Barbie Elsa, a mini Elsa,...

Keep Reading

When You Just Don’t Feel Like Christmas

In: Faith, Living
Woman sad looking out a winter window

It’s hard to admit, but some years I have to force myself to decorate for Christmas. Some years the lights look a little dimmer. The garlands feel a bit heavier. And the circumstances of life just aren’t wrapped in a big red bow like I so wish they were. Then comparison creeps in like a fake Facebook friend and I just feel like hiding under the covers and skipping it all. Because I know there’s no way to measure up to the perfect life “out there.” And it all just feels heavier than it used to. Though I feel alone,...

Keep Reading

When Your Kids Ask, “Where Is God?”

In: Faith, Kids
Child looking at sunset

How do I know if the voice I’m hearing is God’s voice? When I was in high school, I found myself asking this question. My dad was a pastor, and I was feeling called to ministry. I didn’t know if I was just hearing my dad’s wish or the call of God. I was worried I was confusing the two. It turns out, I did know. I knew because I was raised to recognize the presence of God all around me. Once I knew what God’s presence felt like, I also knew what God’s voice sounded like. There is a...

Keep Reading

To the Woman Longing to Become a Mother

In: Faith, Grief, Motherhood
Woman looking at pregnancy test with hand on her head and sad expression

To the woman who is struggling with infertility. To the woman who is staring at another pregnancy test with your flashlight or holding it up in the light, praying so hard that there will be even the faintest line. To the woman whose period showed up right on time. To the woman who is just ready to quit. I don’t know the details of your story. I don’t know what doctors have told you. I don’t know how long you have been trying. I don’t know how many tears you have shed. I don’t know if you have lost a...

Keep Reading

I Was There to Walk My Mother to Heaven

In: Faith, Grief, Loss
Hand holding older woman's hand

I prayed to see my momma die. Please don’t click away yet or judge me harshly after five seconds. I prayed to see, to experience, to be in the room, to be a part of every last millisecond of my momma’s final days, final hours, and final moments here on Earth. You see, as a wife of a military man, I have always lived away from my family. I have missed many birthdays, celebrations, dinners, and important things. But my heart couldn’t miss this important moment. I live 12 hours away from the room in the house where my momma...

Keep Reading

God Sent Me to You

In: Faith, Motherhood
Newborn gazing at mother with father smiling down

I was a little unsure As I left God’s warm embrace: What will it be like? What challenges will I face? There were so many questions Running through my mind. I asked around for the answers I was hoping to find. Who will hold me And cuddle me tight? Who will rock me To sleep at night? RELATED: The Newborn Nights Feel As Endless As My Love For You Who will comfort me When I’ve had a rough day? Who will be there To take my worries away? Who will nourish me And make sure I grow? Who will read...

Keep Reading

Addiction Doesn’t Get the Final Say Over My Son

In: Faith, Motherhood
Woman praying with head bowed

She is so tired. It is a kind of tired that no amount of sleep or rest can alleviate. It is a kind of tired that surpasses physical and even mental fatigue. It is a tiredness of soul—a tiredness that comes from wondering, and grieving, and not knowing how to save her son from the drugs the enemy has bound him up in. She kneels alone on the floor in her bedroom closet. This is where she came when the fear and the uncertainty and the panic started to creep into her heart again. She came here to pray, though...

Keep Reading

I Want to Be a Praying Mama

In: Faith, Motherhood
Dirt road at dusk

I want to be that praying mama. The one who stops on the side of the road when the time seems fit, just to take those few short, undistracted moments to lift my kids up to God. I want to be that praying mama. The one who prays while she drives down the road to schools and lifts each one up as they exit the car for the start of their day. RELATED: Praying For Your Kids is Holy Work of Motherhood I want to be that praying mama. The one who does it so much that the youngest doesn’t...

Keep Reading

Blessed Are Those Who Can’t Even

In: Faith, Living
Woman rubbing temples with hands, color photo

We argued about an orange last night after dinner. Not even a large orange. A tiny mandarin. As emotions escalated between my beloved husband and me, the eldest child graciously removed herself from the table and donned noise-canceling headphones while the smallest child openly snickered and was dispatched to her room to play while we hashed things out in “peace.” I’d love to say that was the most insane thing we’ve ever argued about, but that would be a lie. My kids love to remind us about the breadstick incident a few years back. Life has been a bit overwhelming...

Keep Reading