Each Sunday evening we’re enjoying Advent as a family. Advent simply means “coming”, and the 4 weeks before Christmas Day used to be about preparing our homes and hearts for Christ. I first learned about this tradition a few years ago and though I was eager to do it, every year caught me off guard! I wasn’t prepared and that first Sunday would go flying past and I would regretfully decide “whoops. Maybe next year?” However, our Pastor has been teaching since mid-November on practical ways to make this time of year less about consumption and more about compassion. What a gift that preaching has been to us! We’ve still enjoyed a day walking around the Mall. Still love the evening of popcorn and watching “the Grinch”. To my dismay the boys even love singing the parody “Walkin’ in my Winter Underwear” and even worse? Christmas carols sung by Alvin and the Chipmunks will get Caleb into a full-blown case of the giggles. But otherwise? this year has been the least stressed and the most meaningful we’ve ever experienced. Since I was thinking ahead this time, I was able to get ready. I made a simple wreath, printed out a free devotional found on the Internet and we were finally going to do this right!
(And if you can relate? go ahead and get it ready for next year. Buy your candles and wreath half-off in 2 weeks, print the devotionals and pack with your decorations. You’ll be ready next season and no, your kids are NOT too old for it. Just tell yourself “it’s never too late to do the right thing”-worked for me!)
So Sunday evenings we enjoy Advent time, together. It’s a very simple celebration but it has had a calming, beautiful effect on all of us. We turn out the lights and leave the tree twinkling. Everyone curls up together on the sofa with lap blankets. Dad reads the Scripture and a short devotional. Finally we sing a Christmas hymn, and reminisce and laugh and close in prayer. It’s pretty close to wonderful and I hope it’s one of the traditions the boys grow up and remember with fondness. I hope they gather our grandchildren around and say “this is how we did it when I was your age. This is how we remember what Christmas is about.”
Because truly, we read the paper, watch the news and its’ all too much. Our society seems perpetually stuck in a dismal, cold, dark winter. But I look around and there are still reminders:
the candles. the tree. the children’s shining eyes.
all reflecting Him, the Light of the world.
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness-on them light has shined.” Isaiah 9:2