Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Advent

Last year I posted some thoughts on Advent (here, here, and here) but since we're still growing in our understanding and practice, I thought it would be worthwhile to add what we've learned since last year (and I cannot believe it's already been a whole year!).

We've celebrated Advent since our oldest was a baby, and really, our Advent season was a fairly bright, Christmassy feeling time - lots of Christmas music playing all the time, tree going up right after Thanksgiving, house being decorated shortly thereafter, and then suddenly, everything came to an end on Christmas day. I'd had the decorations up so long and the once-fresh tree was now dropping needles so profusely, that I usually undecorated the house before New Years Day, though we usually left the house lights on at night until New Years Eve because I didn't like the sudden anti-climax.

Two years ago, we decided to tone down Advent, which we had learned was the more tradition way of keeping it anyway. No Christmas music, no decorations until just a day or two before Christmas, and the tree went up and was decorated on Christmas Eve after the little ones were in bed. Instead of the month-long Christmas ending at Christmas Day, we decided to have twelve days of Christmas, ending with Epiphany. Now this is probably not as lavish a celebration as it might sound like - our kids get lots of books for Christmas from us, and some clothes and a few toys from grandparents, so we spread out the opening of presents over the twelve days, and to make the gifts last the whole time, several days their present is chocolate.

Last year around the middle of Advent I asked our oldest daughter what she thought of the new way we were celebrating and she said that it just didn't feel much like Christmas. I told her that it's not really supposed to feel like Christmas until Christmas actually comes, but I've been thinking about her comment since then, and I've decided that what was lacking was a keen sense of anticipation that borders on, and sometimes crosses over to, excitement. So we're trying to work on that - to add it back in. Although I think Advent should feel different than the rest of the year, and different from Christmas, I really don't want the season leading up to Christmas to be dull and dreary.

One of the things I think I should do is to let the various kids help me with picking out presents for their siblings and wrapping and hiding them. That's going to be a real no-brainer for most of you, I'm sure, but I... I have a confession to make: I hate shopping. Normally I do all of my Christmas shopping online, but I really think I should take the kids out, one or two at a time, and either let them help me pick out presents for one another and for Daddy and grandparents, or just give them each a little money to spend on someone else. Mike already does this a little bit, but obviously his time is far more limited than mine is.

I have another confession to make: I'm not very crafty - shocking, I know, coming from a Pseudo-Prairie Muffin, but it gets worse. I don't like cooking or doing art projects with children.

However, my children love all this and I think I really should just do it with them, and smile and have a good time if nothing else, enjoying their pleasure. I know I can do this because it's what I do whenever I have a social engagement I must attend - smile and pretend I'm enjoying myself - and if I can do it for outsiders, surely I can do it for my kids, right?

Anyway, Valerie taught me and the girls to crochet when she was here this summer, and I've been working on an afghan for Mike's grandmother, which I should have done by the end of this week. I need to figure out some other projects like this that the kids and I can do together. We need to bake cookies and give them away.

Jeepers, this post has turned into some kind of confessional. I did NOT mean for that to happen, but oh well. I think I'll leave it. Y'all pray for me, okay?

And a blessed Advent season to you all, as you seek to glorify God and enjoy him with your families!

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