The weeks that precede Christmas are often referred to as the season of Advent, which means "arrival" in Latin. It is the celebration of the arrival of baby Jesus on the 25th of December that is expected, so the entire month (plus a day or two in November) is a time of waiting and preparation, as we anticipate Christmas day.
"Preparing" for Christmas probably involves the same for many of us. The physical preparations are easy to name: shopping, wrapping, baking, decorating, although not so easy to fit into our already, busy schedule. Nonetheless, we find time. Taking time to stop and think about what the season is all about, however, isn't so easy.
I need to realize that emotionally preparing (or more aptly, reflecting) on the meaning of Christmas is what lays the groundwork for my physical preparations. For it's not the actual gift that I should focus on; it's the special person for whom I buying it that matters. It's not the number of cookies I bake; it's the idea of sharing the "sweetness" of the task with others.
Mentally preparing for Christmas (being thankful for my health, counting my blessings of wonderful family and friends, reflecting on the goodness in my life) isn't quite as much fun as crossing all of those to-do's off of my list, but it certainly is important. It's what allows me to make it to Christmas Day every year - so, in fact, it's the only that thing that really does matter.
I find the same to be true with my quest to live well with lupus. The physical changes I've made to keep my disease at bay are, of course, important, but it's the emotional mind shift I've made to do (or not do) what it takes to live well that sets the tone. It's mentally preparing to adjust to life with lupus that paves the way for me to make good decisions physically. Renewing that commitment allows the choices I'm faced with throughout the day that much easier to accept. Taking a nap rather than sledding with my family or postponing a gift wrapping session so that I can go to bed on time don't just happen on their own. I have to choose well - each and every time. And the only way to do that is to be prepared to do so.
So with the new year approaching, we have the chance to, once again, prepare to live well. Maybe this past year you weren't ready. Maybe it was too hard to make good choices. But now is your chance. Prepare to do what it takes to get better. Prepare to do what it takes to be healthy. Prepare to do what it takes to live well, despite lupus.