On the church calendar, we are about to begin advent. A time of waiting for Christ’s return. A time of preparing our hearts for that eventuality. And also a time of preparation as we contemplate Christmas. With their children, many parents and guardians will mark the month of December with an advent calendar, counting down until Christmas, the traditional time to celebrate Christ’s birth. In North American society, it is a time to prepare the house, the mailings and decorations. A time to purchase the tree, the wreath, the food and the gifts. A time that can easily become overwhelming. Here are a few suggestions, borrowed from different folks in my life – send Epiphany (Jan. 6) or Valentine’s Day cards instead, complete with the pictures and updates. Light an advent wreath in your home each week, taking just a few moments to reflect on hope, love, peace and joy. Not feeling the joy because of loss? Add an extra candle in memory of the one missing from your table. Give discarded toys (in good condition) to one who might have none. Invite someone who would otherwise be alone, to join you at your table. Blessings to you and yours this holiday season!