At the time of writing this we are currently into week 2 of Advent.
Advent: Latin (Adventus) for “coming”. “Advent marks the beginning of the liturgical year. While it expresses the deep longing of all humanity for God, it celebrates the three-fold coming of the Lord: remembering the events that surrounded the Lord’s coming long ago, celebrating his coming among us today, and looking forward to his final coming in glory.” Archdiocese of Toronto.
For me and others Advent + Introvert + ADHD = Hectic, frantic, increased disorganization, over booking, cancellations, and a need for more rest.
I look at all those nativity scenes and paintings and things look peaceful at the home of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus; and I wonder, why can’t the Advent season look like that in my life. I also know that traditional Nativity Scenes are nothing more than fantasy. I don’t truly believe for one second that Jesus came into the world and into the lives of Mary and Joseph in a quiet, peaceful manner. I don’t believe that animals suddenly behaved and became best friends with the house guests. I don’t believe that Mary and Joseph suddenly went from a life of busy to a life of leisure.
I think the reality is that Mary and Joseph now had an extra mouth to feed. There was increased pressure to make a home suitable for a family. There also would have been the social pressure from Mary having given birth within a time frame that might not have corresponded to the length of time they had been married. Remember, this couple is still adjusting to married life while having to move away from home, travel, and stay at the home of family. This is not a peaceful way to bring a first born into the world.
I no longer care to feel guilty about not having mastered the experience of a quiet Advent season. It’s not realistic for me and for others who lead busy lives. I make time during Advent to reflect on the meaning of Christ in the world and in my own life, but that is as deep as it will get. This year I didn’t have time to be deeply committed to lighting the advent candles every day. The advent centrepiece sits on my fireplace mantel with those little LED lights. No time for candles. I simply flick a switch and my advent “candle” is lit.
This year, as with many other years, I don’t have time to make it to every religious musical event. No Lessons and Carols, no weekday evening Christmas choir performances, no extra activities that I know will only lead me to feel tired, drained, and over extended. This is not what Jesus expects or asks of us. Guilt be gone.
With ADHD we have to remember it is much easier for us to mis-prioritize, become overwhelmed, and forgetful. I encourage you to choose a few Advent and holiday activities and traditions that are most important to you and let the others be optional.
During the holidays there is no need to go all out. If you are like me, who has one too many potlucks to attend; let others do the work. I utilize bakeries and grocery stores and use the extra time, not to add more activities to my list, but to make time for me to rest and relax amidst the holiday rush. I purchase gift cards when I don’t have the time to pick out actual gifts; people love gift cards, so don’t stress it. I choose a block of time to write all my Christmas cards and a second time frame to send them via Canada Post. This only requires one trip to the post office and no standing in line!
However you choose to spend your Advent and holiday season, remember, the idea of a quiet season is a myth. It wasn’t quiet for Mary and Joseph, and it won’t necessarily be quite for us. Your energy and emotional wellness is most important. Jesus isn’t asking for anything extra at Christmas time. Year round He calls us to love him, love God and love others, follow the commandments, and grow in our faith.
This Christmas, give yourself the best gift ever; self-care!