By Sister Jean McGrath
It is time for a true confession.
Having been in education for my entire professional career, I confess I tried hard to remind myself and the students with whom I worked that one should never rush Christmas. Instead, one should enjoy the beautiful austerity of Advent with its dark winter nights and beautiful Old Testament readings.
I tried but I often failed.
When the infamous Elf on the Shelf is omnipresent in every classroom and the car radio has been playing Christmas music since the Monday BEFORE Thanksgiving, it is difficult not to think about Christmas shopping, decorating, and long lines at Target. I confess, I secretly enjoyed the contagious though commercial anticipation of Christmas. Now, having been barraged by Black Friday deals that began three weeks ago, I have had a revelation, Advent and Amazon do have some things in common.
My new theory: Amazon does know something about anticipation (especially if you are a PRIME member). Like the prophets of old, Amazon has been telling us for months about great things to come. Amazon invites me to check the daily deal, not unlike the prophets remind me to be vigilant and watchful. Amazon sends tracking reminders so that I know something very special is on the way. The daily Advent readings remind me to “prepare the way” and track the wonder and mystery of Advent anticipation.
Yes, this new way of thinking may be a dramatic stretch of the imagination and poor theology, but, so often our busy lives compartmentalize the season and I fear, make us a bit guilty. I want my heart to be still and peace-filled, but when will I shop for the ones I love? I want to experience the stillness of the Advent season, but waiting to put up the tree until Christmas Eve is impossible. I should be thinking about “the reason for the season” but I am also thinking about the ingredients needed for the Christmas cookies I love to bake.
Before you judge me too harshly, please realize I do know that Amazon has been criticized for various reasons. However, let’s give the Amazon elves a break this season. They are people, like you and me, doing the best they can this holiday. Maybe a simple thank you to the weary driver or the offer of a thermos of coffee and a Christmas cookie would be a grateful Advent gesture worth thinking about.
The Black Friday sales have filled my inbox and I admit to scrolling a few retail sites for a unique gift for the special people in my life. But I am also watching and waiting on this cold winter night grateful for the persons, opportunities and grace filled days that mark this special season of the year. I am also waiting for the blue Amazon truck to arrive as promised.
I think there is room in my heart for both this season.
About the Author
After years as a Catholic School Principal, Sister Jean McGrath is looking forward to volunteer service now that she has retired. She loves a good book, a good conversation and a good bargain!