I don’t know of anyone who would put “waiting” at the top of their list of favorite things to do. Yet, that seems to be what I am doing all the time. Waiting for the daylight so I can run. Waiting for the rain to let up so we can walk to the market. Waiting for the metro. Waiting for Wade to get home so we can eat dinner, even though it has been dark for almost four hours. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. I think I need an attitude adjustment from focusing on how much I am waiting to focusing on the quality of my thoughts while waiting.
In this season of Advent, I should embrace the waiting. Advent is from the Latin, adventus, which means coming. It is a time for Christmas preparation in our hearts, our lives and our attitudes. Somehow, I am no longer in fine fettle. I have tried a few things, but these little attempts have gone off kilter, not necessarily by any fault of my own.
As the Christmas festival lights were hung on the Champs d’Elyse and the Boulevard de Courcelles, the Thompsons were ready to light up our little flat with Christmas cheer. Except the Advent wreath and the Christmas decorations went into storage, not our air shipment. Aucun problème. No problem. Liam’s slightly bedraggled, but full of mischief, Elf on the Shelf named Tiny made the trip in one of the carry-ons. At least part of home will be with us here, right? Surely we can find the other accouterments in the land of the origin of the word, accouterments.
I headed to the shops in search of an Advent wreath. Or just purple and pink candles. None to be found anywhere. It’s okay, I thought. We can still remember the season of Advent with our meals without the wreath and candles. I’ll look for an Advent calendar. Success! Not only did I find one with the little cardboard windows to open each day for a piece of chocolate, it is Milka brand. Milka is one of our favorite German chocolates and this little box is chock full of them! Oh, happy day! Onward I go, feeling fortuitous and charged. We have the chimney, but it is bare… next on the list was a stocking. Nope. Not sold in stores. Anything other than festive napkins and expensive little lights were not going to be found at the local emporiums. I headed home with just my little purple box filled with goodness and a pain au chocolate for my efforts.
Somehow, this amethyst quadrilateral of chocolate goodness looked wan against the rest of the bare apartment. But wait! I had discovered Amazon Prime France! Despite the delay in the desperately needed steam cleaner, ’tis the season! I knew they would have Christmasy things for us to order. Our petite maison would soon be festive and ready for making merry! First on the list? A crèche. I saw a nice one that was “Amazon’s number one recommendation” and clicked away. I found these cute little chair covers that look like Santa hats. Bright, red, happy. I’ll take six! Christmas lights that are like little elliptical bulbs? I’ll order 12 meters and figure out the math later. A Christmas tree stand? Done! I felt we were on our way to looking like a Christmasy wonderland. Tiny will be so happy to be hiding amidst the festal adornments. We’ll all be feeling the spirit, despite being 8,000 miles from home.
Our boxes arrived a few days later and there was much celebration in our house! Liam and I opened each one, feeling elated that we’d be able to decorate before Wade came home. He would walk into a complete wonderland! Our vision got the better of us before we finished opening the boxes. That’s when things started to go south. Liam set up the crèche and said, “Umm. Mom, we have a problem.” What could be wrong with the scene of the birth of our Lord? “L, honey, what’s wrong?” “We have no Joseph and we have four wise men.” Okay. Sharpies to the rescue to color the fourth wise man’s chest bearing gold into a black box and make the jeweled crown into a keffiyeh or something of the like. The cute, little Santa cap covers for the chair backs were apparently made of a felt gossamer, obviously a hybrid fabric, that tore through with the first sitting. They looked worse than our disheveled Tiny. Liam quit eating his chocolate when he was so sick last week, so yours truly has had to take one for the team and keep up the countdown by trying to use at least six chews per piece while devouring the finest Deutsche confection. Our tree stand sits off to the right of the hearthside, waiting to be filled with a Sapin de Noël. Our lights are Tiny sized, as in he could take them back to the North Pole and use them to put on his tree. When I squint, I can see them blur into something of a little lambent glow. The stocking I ordered may or may not be able to be delivered by Christmas. How did our preparation go so wrong?
The truth is, I have been preparing in a way that didn’t really need preparing. I know Advent is looking forward, waiting for something greater. I have taken my favorite season and made it about filling in instead of filling up. I want (and need) to be a conduit of His Love by my actions and words, not by adorning our house with the kitschy items that scream, “It’s Christmas Time!”
In this time of preparation though, I want to embrace what our world gives us in vision of His humble beginnings. Paris, with all her churches and cathedrals, is just the place to start. Today, Liam and I are going to head to Notre Dame and spend some time looking at the crèche Provençale. It is a nativity scene that rivals none other than the Original. I want Liam to see a complete scene, with Joseph as he was, not just after his home makeover. I want to put things back into perspective, attentive to what the real stirring in my heart is. And after we spend time in one of the most beautiful churches in the world? We’ll wait joyfully for the metro and head to the Patisserie to order a gâteau de bûche de Noël, a Christmas yule log cake. I do believe the Advent season is in my heart after all!