Oh Joy! I was in the mall on Saturday afternoon for a few hours. It wasn’t a tactical strike – it was a wander. There were people who didn’t want to be there: Kids pitching fits and adults pitching fits and bribes of ice cream (because that *never* causes unintentional extra-crunchy mayhem) and a candy-cane stuck in an (apparently) expensive fun-fur vest.
But there were others at the mall who were a joy to behold. There was a young family – two girls who were maybe 2 and 4 and their parents. The girls had on matching tutus with red tights underneath. The younger of the two girls was leading the charge: “IGOINTOSEESANDA!” The dad was chasing her: “I TOTALLY KNOW HIM! LETS GO!” The mom looked bemused – it looked like this perhaps wasn’t the first time she had seen this scene unfold. Perhaps not even the first time that weekend. An older gent had speakers and lights attached to his scooter, and was playing jazzy Christmas tunes. I wonder if his choice of music was extra-nostalgic for him, or if it was just the happenstance of tunes on rotation the few times he passed me. Either way, it was pretty great.
This last demographic is doing holidays right. Three quarters of the way through Advent, we light the rose candle for Joy Sunday. It’s the reminder that we’re supposed to be enjoying this. Sure, Advent is a journey, but we’re supposed to be enjoying the journey. Instead of being anxious and hostile about the progression of your to-do list and whether or not you feel prepared, it’s a checkpoint to make the RC kids take a breath and enjoy what you’re doing – and why you’re doing it.
I mean, a baby is coming – that’s very exciting, right? In the Angelus on Gaudete Sunday, the pope blesses the babies from people’s nativity scenes. It’s called Bambellini Sunday, and while I’m a total Francisco Fangirl, Pope Francis looked like he was loving this part of his job. That’s the work-joy to which I aspire. There’s a tradition (that I don’t follow because my baby and His manger are one unit) that you don’t put J.C in the nativity scene until Christmas morning, and you don’t add the Wise Men until 12th Night (I add them earlier than that, but not until after Christmas). Everyone is making the journey to the stable. Every journey has challenges that you encounter on the way, like, say, the unfortunate off-season beheading of two wise men in their Rubbermaid travelling accommodations. Oops. But every journey has excellent moments of charm, peace, and joy, too, if you stop worrying long enough to let them happen. This is how gratitude journals start.
This Advent, may I navigate the joyful route more often. This Advent, may the detours be clearly marked so I can always re-calibrate my way back to joy.