I’m starting Advent in a terribly contrary mood. At first I was irritated because all the Advent calendars and all the Advent candles in the shops, and all the Advent books that I have in the house, start on 1 December, and Advent started yesterday, and that left two days unobserved at the beginning. Yesterday wasn’t a problem – I saw Advent in with a cup of mulled wine and the Palestrina Matin Responsory, as is entirely proper – but today I was going to have to scratch around to fill in the gaps.
But I’d forgotten about the time difference, and the first prompt of Reverb popped up in my inbox a couple of hours ago. And now here I am with a perfectly good observance – because why shouldn’t day 1 of Reverb be 30 November? – and I’m finding that I’m not ready for Advent; I’ve got far too much to do.
It’s a good thing that this prompt is about lists, that’s all I can say.
Let’s start with my mental to-do list for this evening.
Done: email my aunt to thank her for my birthday present; eat supper; wrap up my brother’s birthday present; wrap up a gift for an internet acquaintance; get the box of Christmas decorations down; get the crib out; piano practice.
Not done: take a bath; read a poem; catch up on comments on my writing community; type up the bits of story I’ve been writing in longhand over the last week or so; sort out and upload a week’s worth of daily photos.
This evening, at least, I’m praying for a bit of time to myself, for some reprieve from the tasks that pile up and shriek that they have to be done before I can move on to the part where I can take care of myself. I like to think that I’m getting better at declining to carry the burdens of the world outside, at carving out time where I can stop, and rest, and reflect, but tonight that isn’t the case.
But it’s tough. Here we are. It’s Advent. I’m going to stop.
In my head I have a list of editors who are polishing various aspects of my novel for me, of the steps that need to be taken (proofread, format) before I can move on to other, more exciting steps (cover), before I can put the thing out into the world and call it done. And yes, I am praying for it to be done, and done well.
I have a rather daunting list of the activities that are occupying every weekend until Christmas. Individually, they are fun things that I want to do. Collectively, I’m dreading them.
I am having to remind myself that Advent is a time of preparation, and that nobody is expecting me to have everything right this early in the season. I am reminding myself that not every item has to be crossed off the list, that maybe it doesn’t matter if I don’t do the washing up tonight. If my lists are prayers, I think they’re rather crude, pathetic ones: if I do all these things, will you leave me alone? Please, I want some freedom. And that’s not how prayer works, not really.
What’s on my lists? I mean, what is really on my lists? What am I praying for? I’m praying for: balance; creativity; flow; rest; recuperation; connection; boundaries; and celebration.