Count down, count up, or live for now?
If you have an Advent Calendar, today marks the point when you’ve opened a week’s worth of doors or windows. That means that you’ve either 17 or 18 days left, depending on whether yours finishes on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Has opening a door or window every day made Christmas feel closer?
Advent calendars are like the chuff charts that many military families have when one person in the family is away on deployment. They count down the days until the homecoming, and my husband and I have both made more of those through the years than we care to remember. Some families add a picture of the soldier, sailor or aviator at the top to make it more personal. I think that’s why I like traditional Advent Calendars with a nativity-type picture in the middle, as a constant reminder of what we’re counting down to.
Counting down to something is quite a natural thing that we do. It builds expectation and excitement, and helps us focus on what is to come, whether it’s Christmas, the return of a loved one from working away, a long-awaited holiday or whatever. One of the negative sides of counting down to something though, is that we can build our expectations too high. And I think this happens with Advent and Christmas. I hear so many people saying something along the lines of “all that build up and then it’s over so quickly!”
But when we’re working towards something should we count down or count up? Is “counting down” simply a figure of speech or does it signify something deeper. Research proposes the idea that we count down when we’re working towards something ending, and we count up when we want to measure achievement. The first is about comfort, the second about empowerment. The theory is that we count down to our dreams and count up to our goals; and that getting the counting in the right order makes each process feel shorter.
Either way, though, always wishing our life away or yearning for the future can cause us to miss out on the gift of the present. So, whether you’re counting down or counting up to Christmas, don’t miss the opportunity to take full advantage of every single day in Advent. As someone wise once said:
Life’s not a race, it’s a journey, so enjoy the moment now!