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 | By Alison Blanchet

Packing, Unpacking and Making Space

Happy Advent

It was not in our plans for 2022, but we bought a house and moved in the spring. Some people are really good at moving. They make spreadsheets and labels and do things like pack shoes in the same box and remember to not put their kids' school uniforms under the Christmas decorations. When movers ask, “Where should this go?” they will offer better answers than, “Inside…?”

I am not good at moving. In my 20s I had unpacked boxes as end tables. I had hoped that now that I was a mother of tiny humans who needed me to remember where I packed their nail clippers, I’d be given an infused ability to unpack and organize. But, several months have passed, and I’m wearing the same three shirts to work because they were in the laundry basket when we moved, and I gave up searching for nail clippers and bought new ones for the toddler.

I find unpacking and setting up a house hard. Despite my hopes that the boxes would unpack themselves, it appears that I actually have to pull out each dish, book and phone charger that I packed and figure out where it belongs in our new space — and sometimes wonder why I packed it at all.

The season of Advent is often described as a season of preparation, specifically a time of preparing to welcome Christ into the home of our hearts. I’ve always loved that metaphor. It can conjure up images of lighting scented candles and laying out fluffy blankets.

However, the current chaos of our move is reminding me that preparing a house can be a lot of work — and I can’t light my scented candles until I find them! And the matches, but baby steps.

As we prepare to welcome Christ this Christmas, it can be helpful to examine what we are avoiding — or not wanting to unpack — when it comes to the preparation of our souls.

Is it the spiritual reading we keep next to our bed, but that we never pick up because we can’t stop scrolling our newsfeed? Is it the struggling friend we keep meaning to check on? The sacrament of reconciliation that we’re always just a little too busy to find time for on a Saturday afternoon? The act of service that we know we could do but can’t bring ourselves to commit to completing?

Maybe something has already popped into your mind. Something that, like the boxes I keep stepping over, you keep meaning to tend to but haven’t found the time to address.

Maybe the question, “What preparation does my heart need?” is a question to take to prayer.

Advent is a season rich with opportunities to prepare our hearts to welcome Christ in a new way at Christmas. And, just like I have to make the choice to begin to put things where they belong in my home, we have to make the space for prayer, worship and service where they belong in our hearts.

Now, where did we put the Advent wreath?

Alison Blanchet lives in Panama City with her husband and three children. She works as a therapist for children and teens. Email her at