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Advent means "coming" in Latin. For Christians, it is celebrated the four Sundays before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve. It is a time to prepare our hearts and minds for a miracle--the coming birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

After Holloween, it seems that Christmas, the commercial Christmas, seems to jump ahead of Thanksgiving and start to occupy our thoughts and dictate our actions.

This time before Advent is a good time to slow this process down--a time to focus on preparing ourselves by contemplation and planning where we will put our emphasis.

While enjoying the shopping, the food, and family visits that make this time of year so enjoyable, but also stress producing and busy, slow down enough to remember that back before cars, people walked (or rode donkeys).

Back before big advertizing, big stores, and all the latest gift enticements, gifts were small and simple and loved just as much.

Back before huge feasts and seemingly never-ending high-calorie temptations, food was simpler and a fancy meal was fancy because it brought people together to enjoy each other even more than the food itself.

Let us prepare ourselves in this time before Advent to open our hearts and minds to the love that prompted God to send us a Savior. In that way, during Advent we can focus on the real meaning and the miracle of Christmas.