Ah what a joyful Christmas carol which warms our hearts with the spirit of readiness for the birth of Christ. Many of us are already pulling out our ornaments and nativity sets to fill our homes with this festive reception for the Christ child born to us; yet, have we considered the importance of readying ourselves with the décor of virtues? Let the beauty and wonder of our adorned homes be an outer sign of the inner splendor of our hearts prepared for receiving baby Jesus. Here are three simple ways to live Advent in a joyful preparation to ready my heart to receive baby Jesus on Christmas eve. First, set out your Advent wreath on your dining table so you remember as you light the candle at the start of your family meal to read that Sunday’s gospel before grace. Second, pray the respective decade of the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary that corresponds to the week of Advent. (It’s only one decade – 1 Our Father, 10 Hail Mary’s, 1 Glory Be – so you can easily fit that in even the busiest of days). Third, and this one may really help you…leave the lights off your Christmas tree until the reason for the season to celebrate, Dec 25th. Just like how we set up our Nativity sets and don’t put baby Jesus in the manger until it is Christmas eve, so too not lighting up our Christmas tree until Christmas is a very tangible reminder of the joyful expectation we are waiting for and readying our hearts. Advent will be so special in the measure we decorate our hearts with this holy longing for baby Jesus! Tis the season to be hopeful!