Advent is a fresh start, a welcome into the silence and the mystery of whatever is waiting to be born or reborn in our lives. At the very time when we are most immersed in activity--shopping, parties, baking and cleaning in preparation for the noise and merriment of Christmas--Advent is an invitation to slow down, to come away to the quiet. It's a reminder that the promise of Christ is "already but not yet." We are called to prepare a place for Jesus in our hearts and our lives, just as the people of the Hebrew Scriptures longed for the Messiah, and as Mary and Joseph prepared for the birth of their first child. Life as we know it is going to change if we live Advent well. In Simple Gifts, author Diane Houdek offers a series of daily Advent meditations that are very different from the commodified, candy-filled calendars we find in stores. This one calls us to rest, to step back, to learn to appreciate the small events and simple gifts that flow through our days. These reflections remind us of the life-changing truths that lie deep within our own hearts. Gathering wisdom from Scripture, from saints and spiritual writers, and from the author's own deceptively profound insights about everyday life, Simple Giftsis a way to seek a sense of peace and wholeness in our hearts and in our daily lives. It's an opportunity to learn more about ourselves and the God who loved us enough to become one of us and share our journey. If we do that even in small ways this year, we will have an immeasurable gift to share with our loved ones--and possibly even with our world.