The Waiting Is the Hardest Part

Today is Monday, the 23rd of December and this evening at 5 pm, my step-daughter Alexis is getting married.  This much-anticipated wedding is the focus of our holiday celebration for me and my family.  We are overjoyed at the union of two unique, beautiful people, and by the expansion of our circle to include wonderful, new members.

With a wedding comes so many details, which is why my advice to Alexis has always been, "slow down and remember that the day is about you and Matthew."  This day will pass so quickly - in the blink of an eye. The whirlwind of activity that precedes it - weeks and weeks of preparation - will evaporate. And that brings me to the message in this post. 

The holiday season is associated with festivity: lights, trees, Santa, gifts, special foods and traditions.  My favorite part of this time of year, however, is Advent, the weeks leading up to Christmas Day.  I was taught as a child that Advent is a time to prepare for the coming of the Christ child through prayer and reflection. I’m not sure how much reflection was going on in those days, aside from obsessing about whether or not Santa could enter our house via a fake fireplace.

We, as a society, are not terribly good at waiting. If you look at a line of people waiting to board a bus, or cash out at a register, you rarely see happy people. . Don't get me started about waiting in traffic. When asked to wait, we rely on a myriad of electronic toys to amuse us. But sit still and enjoy the moment? We've lost the art of doing that. 

As an adult, Advent has taken on new meaning. During this time when darkness falls early in the day, Advent asks me to slow down. It asks me to reflect on the people and things that have meaning for me as well as to leave room in my heart for experiences I can’t anticipate.  It asks me to renew my commitment to kindness and hope, to perseverance and patience, particularly patience with myself.  Advent reminds me that small things matter, and that silence and quiet times are good for the soul, the heart and creativity.

Advent is about waiting - waiting for the sun to return to us and warm the earth.  It is about waiting for the time when our troubles will be fewer, and our acceptance of what is, stronger.  I think of seeds, buried deep beneath a  blanket of snow, waiting for spring; black branches coated with ice  waiting for a signal to sprout leaves. I even contemplate the very old story of a frightened couple anxiously looking for a place to spend the night -the young woman waiting to give birth to a baby.

No amount of anticipation can change what is to come. I learned this through a period of great grief. I dreaded every milestone, every anniversary ahead of me. I anticipated episodes of enormous pain and sorrow. Yet when the future events arrived, I found they were not as painful as I had anticipated. No sorrow ever is. It will come and go, like joy and celebration.

No matter what you believe, I hope you create your own unique advent. I hope you are able to slow down, and breathe. Even if it means standing before a Christmas tree to admire its beauty at 3 a.m.when your house is still, or stepping outside to look up at the stars. Before the hustle and bustle of the season reaches its fever pitch, I wish for you the time to reflect on what is important and what touches your heart, before these festive times fly away.  

The best of this holiday season to us all!


This was very heartwarming, thank you!

A few things are keeping me antsy and anxious. Sometimes it's just day by day and lessons in perspective.

Waiting is so difficult sometimes, but it can also be beautiful. Thank you for the reminder.

Thank you, Robin, for this reminder! I've been savoring the days this week, and it's been wonderful.

wow – such a lovely post! and congrats to your step-daughter :)

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