So, are you ready for Christmas?

Prior to Advent, this question was already being asked. Am I ready for Christmas? What does “ready” mean? Is my ready, their ready? How has Christmas jumped onto my plate so fast? What do I have planned? What does our family have planned? What are my deadlines? Am I going to get it all done?

As these questions swirled through my head they provoked a host of emotions. Many were positive as I thought about Christmases past, activities already pencilled onto our calendar, ideas in the works, and the whole of the Christmas season. But all too quickly these elated feelings turned the corner of anxiety and suddenly it became a downhill slide of doubt, comparison, discontentment, and guilt. Which brought me back to the original question: Am I ready for Christmas?

One of my favorite Christmas decorations is one that is very special to me. Years ago, my grandmother made a small cross-stitch that reads, “May the true meaning of Christmas dwell in your heart all year through.” Intentionally I have often left this decoration up from one Christmas to the next as a special reminder. Now as a mother, I ask myself what is it that I am modeling to my children when it comes to the true meaning of Christmas.

So this is what got me thinking. Yes, Christmas is a season. But the undercurrent of Christmas is one that overflows into the entire year and exists to saturate our thoughts and actions and speech with Christ-like behaviour. Am I ready for Christmas? How am I preparing myself and my children today for, yes, the celebration that is coming near the end of the month, but more importantly, a lifetime of living out Christmas day-to-day? Am I ready every day?

My husband and I have been married eleven years and are on the journey of raising three precious little girls, ages four, two, and 4 months. With children now present, we are brought back to the basics in nearly every aspect of life, and Christmas is no exception.

Preparation takes time, and preparation of the heart, whether it’s for Christmas or for the rest of the year, is prayer. Taking the time to pray for and with our children should be a priority. The more our own hearts are prepared for Christmas, the better we can ready our children’s.

Planning is intentional. It has to be! Who doesn’t want to see their plans come to fruition, and with meaning? As our hearts are prepared, the planning can begin. Who will we reach out to, and why? What will we spend our time doing, and why? When can we bless someone, and why? Where will Jesus be found this Christmas?

And the readiness? It just comes, I realized. As the preparation and the planning begin to roll out, the readiness naturally follows. Conversations take on new meaning and we are ready to answer questions. Invitations to fellowship are intentional and we are ready to include others. Our giving and service is done with joy and we are ready to share.

The Bethlehem story is re-enacted in our home nearly every night. I am often the angel who speaks her part while washing the dishes after supper and every other role is delegated to my husband and our two year old by the oldest sister who is – you guessed it – always Mary. Baking has overtaken the kitchen, which is to be doled out to a downtown soup kitchen as well as our own church’s Christmas outreach event. Asking un-churched friends to join us for Christmas plays and meals and services has begun. Some of these events have already come to pass, resulting in deeper relationships.

There is a lot on my plate as a mother of three little ones in every season! But especially at Christmas, more than ever, I want to be ready and I want my children to be ready. I have come to realize that “readiness” is daily. So every day this Christmas season we are including Jesus, because he is the True Meaning of Christmas. Readiness for Christmas is one thing, but readiness for the True Meaning of Christmas dwelling in our hearts all year through takes, well, a little more time and intention.

Are you ready for Christmas?

Kaarin (Bean) Hart (’03) and her husband Kelly (’02) live in Ottawa with their three daughters. Kaarin works as an RN at The Ottawa Hospital and Kelly is a lawyer with Williams McEnery.