Glimpse of the holy: Advent with a toddler

A few years ago, on All Saints' Eve, I decided that our family's Christmas season would be simple and, insofar as was possible with a toddler in the family, spirit-centered. Still green to parenting, I defined spiritual as anything that reduced my to-do list by half and allowed me a minute to reflect on what, beyond the laundry, mattered.  

By Thanksgiving I'd turned off the television. There would be no Arthur or video versions of Winnie-the-Pooh this Advent.

Every morning of Advent, we opened a door on the calendar and then, over our Cheerios, talked about whatever came up: the wise men on their trek, the guidance of stars, a mother on a donkey. After I picked up my son from a morning at day care, we'd share a quiet lunch and spend afternoons reading Christmas picture books, baking gingerbread men indoors and making snowmen outdoors. Nothing was rushed. There was no stumbling past shopping mall Santas, no staring at TV ads, no frantic filling of empty time or panic over last-minute wrapping.