For several years I worked at the Gap at the Shelter Cove Mall. Months of selling khakis and white T-shirts to tourists shopping for their beach photos would be mercifully interrupted in December when people arrived to buy actual gifts.
My favorite would be the Christmas Eve shoppers. Some wandered in aimlessly, asking, "Uh, I think my girlfriend is about your size. Can you help me?" (These gifts would end up returned by women who looked nothing like me.) Then there were the triumphant ones, arriving with a list and crossing off their last items. Although last-minute, they were successful because they had a plan.
We're about halfway through advent -- the season when we can spiritually prepare for Christmas -- and maybe you're feeling a bit like the last-minute shoppers I'd encounter. You know you need to do something, but you're not entirely sure what that could be. Is it too late to even try?
Well, for those of you in need of direction, I realized there are exactly 12 days left until Christmas. So for you, I have written a song with some suggestions for how you can make these last few days of advent count. (Disclaimer: Don't try to sing it. It doesn't rhyme.)
Your "12 Days of Advent":
On the first day left of advent, the world will get from me: A gift bought for an angel tree.
On the second day left of advent, the world will get from me: Two cups of coffee bought for the car behind me at the drive-through.
On the third day left of advent, the world will get from me: Three sincere "hellos" to annoying co-workers I sometimes pretend not to hear.
On the fourth day left of advent, the world will get from me: Four bedtime stories for my kids, even though I'm stressed and would rather be drinking wine from a box than reading "Thomas the Tank Engine."
On the fifth day left of advent, the world will get from me: Five extra dollars in the tip for the server who was so busy that our food came out lukewarm instead of hot.
On the sixth day left of advent the world will get from me: Six extra seats in the minivan to bring the neighbor's kids to school when their car didn't start.
On the seventh day left of advent the world will get from me: A week's worth of groceries donated to Deep Well.
On the eighth day left of advent the world will get from me: Patience when stuck behind a caravan of minivans from Ohio, slowing down to search for an unlit sign on U.S. 278.
On the ninth day left of advent the world will get from me: A couple hours of free babysitting for tired parents in need of time to do last-minute Christmas shopping or breathe.
On the 10th day of advent the world will get from me: A phone call -- not a text message -- to check in with family that live out of town.
On the 11th day of advent the world will get from me: Some quiet time with Chapter 11 from the book of Isaiah. It's one of the Old Testament prophecies of the coming of the Messiah and offers us the image of the peace He brings, describing the wolf and lamb dwelling together "and a little child" leading them (and you thought Hallmark made that one up.)
On the 12th day, it's Dec. 25. So go to church with your family and celebrate that as much as we can try to give to ourselves and others, we can never be outdone by God, who loved us so much that he sent his only son and is waiting for us to respond with faith.