Over the years, I haven't done much to prepare for Christmas apart from buying presents and attending the occasional Advent retreat. Compared to Lent, which has always been a spiritually nurturing season for me, Advent always seems to come and go so quickly. One day, I'm lighting the first candle on my Advent wreath. The next day, I'm taking down the Christmas lights on my balcony. It's a shame because I love listening to Christmas music on the radio and in stores when I go shopping. Right after Christmas, it's on to the next thing. You start seeing Valentine's Day decorations in January. And in February, they are already preparing for St. Patrick's Day. We live in a culture where productivity is prioritized. We always have to be doing something or preparing for the next thing which, in actuality, runs counter to what God wants for us. He just wants us to be present with Him. When Martha complained about being left to serve by herself while her sister listened to Jesus, the Lord replied: "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her." (Luke 10:41-42) I often relate to Martha. I want to be my most productive self. I want to accomplish more in the future and, with the calendar year coming to an end, I want to look back on my year and see which facets of my life I need to work on. I want to plan ahead for the new year and make new goals and new habits so that I can be a better person. While it's good to plan ahead, and there are many useful books on developing healthy habits, we can also be grateful for where we are and for everything the Lord has done for us. During my spare time, I'm usually reading or watching videos on my phone to distract myself. This Advent, I want to push myself outside of my comfort zone so that I can be a source of joy for others. Like Lent, Advent is a time to prepare our hearts for the Lord. We can choose to keep the same routine or we can challenge ourselves to go beyond what we always do.For Marthas, this challenge to go beyond what we always do can counterintuitively look like the quiet stillness of Martha's sister, Mary. It can look like sitting in silence and contemplation in the morning, making ourselves available to meet with friends, attending daily Mass, or even greeting strangers. I want to use my spare time this Advent to be more present with the Lord, just like Mary. I want to spend more time in quiet prayer and in community with others. As long as we make the effort to grow closer to Christ and to see Christ in others, He will guide us every step of the way, so that by the time Christmas arrives, our hearts are ready.