I take the nesting phase of pregnancy very seriously. My freezer should be so full that the door barely closes; every speck of dirt on the floor is a reminder that newborn illness lurks around every corner. It doesn’t matter that I can barely breathe or that I am wearing compression socks over my compression socks. I have to be prepared. The to-do list feels neverending as I ensure that welcoming a new life while still caring for the rest of my family goes as smoothly as possible.
Unfortunately, as intense as I am about welcoming my babies, I have historically not been as attentive to welcoming The Baby. While I try to focus spiritually on Advent and Christmas for my family, my personal preparations can become a bit lax. But this year, I have felt called to take my preparations for Jesus’ birth as seriously as I do those for my own children. I spend so much physical, emotional, and spiritual energy in ensuring my heart and my home are ready for the arrival of our child; this year, I hope to take that same approach in welcoming Jesus.
Viewing Advent and Christmas through the lens of a real, actual baby has provoked some insights for me that I thought may be helpful for others. So without further ado, here are some ways that I am considering growing this year in my Advent preparations:
- Preparing a home. Just as we plan and prepare our homes for our new little ones (either Pinterest is half nursery decor or the algorithm has me figured out), are we cultivating a holy space to welcome Christ? Have we invested as much thought in the Advent and Christmas sacramentals as we have in the candy canes and twinkle lights? Do those who come into our homes see that we approach Christmas a little differently? Does our space encourage more focus on Christ’s coming?
- Engaging in hospitality. A newly pregnant Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth; Jesus was welcomed by strangers from the East. Similarly, when a new baby arrives, people are (hopefully) quick to extend kindness—meals left at the door, “checking in” text messages, a midday coffee run. Similarly, most families embrace Christmas’s call of hospitality, but how can we stretch ourselves to extend our homes and our treasures to those we may not be as familiar with? Are we being invited to welcome a family we don’t know well, an elderly or lonely neighbor, a priest, or the like? Can we provide maternity or postpartum support to new parents? Are we called to give more generously of our gifts, financial or otherwise, to help another member of the Body of Christ?
- Relishing the anticipation. I have spent hours in delighted silence, watching the wriggling baby in my belly—the little kicks, the big rolls, the rhythmic hiccups. Though I generally don’t adore pregnancy, I could sit in this space for hours. Do I do the same with Jesus? Do I ponder the Life that is coming, the ways that He will change everything? Do I, like Our Lady, allow myself to bask in the joy of waiting and wondering, of just soaking in the moment of holding Jesus close to my heart?
I find that if I go into Day One with my plans in place, my head and heart are more encouraged to make the most of the liturgical season. With Advent’s arrival in less than two weeks, we can start asking ourselves how God is calling us to prepare. These are only my personal reflections on how I can up my own Advent game, and given my poor track record of stellar Advent participation, these thoughts may be nothing new, just a friendly reminder to prayerfully consider where God is leading you this season. If nothing else, it’s never a bad idea to treat Advent like a “Little Lent,” as it’s sometimes known, and engage in prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
But if you are feeling inclined to embrace Jesus’ humanity as seen in the mystery of Christmas . . . Are the meals or treats we share with neighbors we haven’t gotten to know yet an Advent version of pre-baby “freezer meals”? Is purging some noise or social media from our lives the equivalent of the frantic reorganization of the kids’ toys before baby arrives? Just as we finally give in to our pregnant and exhausted body’s demands and take that midday nap, can we say “yes” to Jesus’ call to just rest with Him in the chapel?
How can we challenge ourselves to make the most of this nesting phase so that, when Christmas finally comes, our preparation and excitement may bring us to a beautiful peace, ready to just soak in the beauty of the Most Perfect Baby?