Husband & Wife Articles


Reclaiming Advent

My husband and I fell into a better routine, by accident

By Teresa Tomeo

“Honey, don’t forget what happened last Advent. It was our best one ever.”

Those were my husband’s words to me as I was rushing out the door recently on yet another hectic day armed with my ever-growing Christmas “to do” list. It was only the second weekend of Advent and I was already feeling like the season was quickly passing me by.

We had just come off a party at our home with about 20 of our close friends. Although we had done a good job of getting the house back in order, there was still some last-minute tidying up we had to do in preparation for guests about to arrive for our next festive gathering in only a few days. We love to cook and entertain. But at that moment, the thought of planning another dinner menu was not exactly resulting in warm fuzzies about what one of the popular Christmas carols proclaims as “the most wonderful time of the year.” I was quickly turning into Mrs. Grumpy Pants, as my husband bluntly told me, or a female version of Scrooge.

So how did I get my Christmas groove back? I took my husband’s advice and remembered our Advent season of 2010. Everything was going so smoothly. It was the Sunday after Thanksgiving. I was inside working on the tree and putting the finishing touches on other decorations. My husband, Dominick, was outside putting up the Christmas lights. The next thing I knew he was walking through the front door with a giant lump on his forehead, holding his right arm close to his chest, and saying, “Honey, I think we have to go to the hospital.”

It wasn’t a heart attack. He had lost his footing on the step ladder and landed on the cement driveway. At the ER, they found his right wrist was broken in several places and would require major surgery. We were grateful to God that his injuries weren’t worse. We have heard many stories about folks who have sustained major back and head injuries in similar accidents. However, despite our gratitude, our hearts were heavy that Sunday night as we headed home from the hospital, since we knew most if not all of our plans for Christmas would have to be altered or completely changed. It would be a different Christmas. Little did we know that the accident was a big blessing in disguise.

Off the list was my husband’s office party, which is always a highlight for us. The doctors were advising plenty of rest and so dining and dancing were obviously not part of the prescription. Also off the list were the usual shindigs we hold in our home, along with the baking and the cooking we do together. It’s hard to put on dinner parties when one of the key players has his arm in a cast. Most of our annual festivities were replaced with quiet nights in front of the fireplace and we soon began to realize that maybe the accident was no accident after all. Maybe the Lord allowed it to happen to get our attention. We needed to slow down and be still. And what a blessed, peaceful time it was.

So here we are now already in the third week of Advent. And while we are back to doing some of our traditional events, we are also doing of better job of creating those quiet spaces for God and each other. We learned an important lesson, and when one of us slips back into the former frenetic holiday mode, the other is there to stop a tumble in the wrong direction. No pun intended.

So if you find yourself already exhausted and muttering the words “bah-humbug” rather than “happy Advent,” take our advice: eliminate a few social activities. Slow down. Be still. Put down the baking sheet and pick up your Bible. Oh, and stay away from step ladders.

Teresa Tomeo is a Catholic mother, author and radio host whose latest book is Extreme Makeover: Women Transformed by Christ, Not Conformed to the Culture. Her website is