In another of my astounding Bad Catholic moments, I just threw a Christmas party (NOT an Advent gathering), missed Mass, and generally blew up my first two weeks of Advent. To be fair, I have pretty much let everything get out of control, not just my spiritual life. Today alone, I have missed a deadline and a conference call, arrived late to a luncheon, and got back to my house late to get my son onto his Earth Science class. Just when did they schedule that quiz, anyway? I have had lot of hope (week 1) but not much Peace (week 2), at least not in the traditional sense. Am I focused too much on heathen, secular holiday activities? Maybe, partly (See Hallmark Channel, Outlander Season 3 finale, and The Crown Season 2) but I am sure I cannot be alone in the spiritual exhaustion presented to us by the extreme number of significant religious feasts that occur the first two weeks in Advent.
So far, we have had the Feast of St. Nicholas, Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Feast of St. Juan Diego, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (today), and the Feast of St. Lucy (tomorrow). I will barely get my tamales and tilmas out of the way before we make a wreath of candles for my daughter to parade around on her head. It is really cutting into my holiday party time. As you may remember from last year, our Elves on the Shelf do help the kids recognize these feasts. The elves hang out with Santa and make a shoe train for St. Nicholas Day. We have the elf tilmas for St. Juan Diego. The girl elves MAY be wearing wreaths with birthday candles on them tomorrow. I can’t make any promises. I can’t keep up. I never would have guessed that religious celebrations and observances would begin to interfere with traditional Christmas activities like buying lots of stuff and attending boozy get-togethers.
I guess it does help to find that I am exhausted for the right reasons. Which brings me to my Tale of Two parties. While Ted was in Hawaii with his parents, my parish had its annual Advent Gathering, which I was supposed to lead. It is one of my favorite events… when someone else does it. We get together the afternoon of the first Sunday of Advent to decorate Advent wreaths and have them blessed, along with some social activities and treats. It is really relaxing to attend. With all of our post-Thanksgiving colds and lack up spousal support, my kids and I were a rag-tag, unprepared bunch when we showed up (late) to do set-up. Luckily, an Advent miracle occurred, and parishioners showed up to pitch in and help me through, so it was not a complete disaster. The three of us went to mass afterwards and went to bed.
The following Sunday was our annual Christmas party, which is a gingerbread house decorating party. We usually have it closer to Christmas but, with Ted’s travel schedule and the timing of Christmas this year, it fell the second Sunday of Advent. This is the type of party you really need to rely on your mania to produce. Not only did we have to finish decorating the inside and outside of our house, the cleaning and set up almost killed us. In addition to the candy bar for the decorating of almost 30 gingerbread houses, we have a hot chocolate bar (8 different kinds of marshmallows this year), an eggnog and mulled cider station, a chocolate fountain, a holiday movie quiz, prizes, and general merriment. I felt a little guilty about celebrating so early in the season but, once I saw the fellowship that was happening, I realized that this wasn’t so different from the interaction at the Advent Wreath party. Sure, there was less prayer and more wine, but the opportunity to connect with people and spread joy was the same. As for missing Mass that weekend, at least there are a number of parish penance services around this time of year that will help me seek forgiveness. We will also be able to dine all week on the hors d’oeuvres that never made it out of my fridge. Hostess with the Mostess.
I am looking forward to relaxing this third Sunday of Advent with Ted in Las Vegas at – wait for it- the Mandalay Bay Hotel, Vegas Tragedy HQ. Ted tells me it is only $50 a night. I asked if that was what they were paying us to stay there. Still I am not one to turn down a cheap trip and I need to recover from the first two weeks of Advent. Maybe I can get this season back on track. The third weekend of Advent is joy, so on Gaudete Sunday, I can rejoice around the Strip in pink – oops, I meant rose – and think joyful, Godly thoughts in Sin City. When you have to go to Vegas for peace and quiet, you know things have gone wrong and proof that God does have a sense of humor.
Wishing you a Blessed Advent,