Saturday, November 28, 2015

Look! Here comes Christmas!

November 28th, 2015

Tomorrow is the First Sunday in Advent, and although Advent is supposed to be a time of contemplation and preparation for the coming of the Christ Child it is also all mixed up with eternal batches of shortbread for Christmas gifts, writing Christmas letters, buying presents, wrapping presents, putting up lights, decorating trees, Christmas luncheons, Christmas dinners, Christmas drinks parties, and for the little ones great wonder and excitement...

So how do we give to Advent the recognition and honour that is due the season????

When the children were home an Advent Log centered  Sunday Night's supper  table
during Advent.
The candle of peace, the candle of hope, the candle of joy and the candle of love.

The children took turns reciting the advent prayer, and then everybody, parents included, picked the name of another family member from a special container, and were bound to do something nice for that person each day during the coming week, secretly.

Of course there were sidelong glances and sometimes groans, but it did lend a little solemnity and thoughtfulness to the days leading up to Christmas.

There were years when we had very little money, and often December included handicrafts and special secretive projects.  The children received their share of mittens, wooden stick horses, shields and homemade swords, and sweaty little hands plyed needle and thread, making little loving presents. or fashioning little figures or ashtrays out of play dough and painting them bright colours.

And everybody helped clean silver (of which we received great quantities as wedding gifts, having been married directly after the war before electrical appliances became available again) although it wasn't a job anyone volunteered for until David, our grandson stepped up to the plate one year and made the plates and platters and creams and sugars gleam like new.

We had an Advent Calendar as well, but not the  kind where you open the door to the day's treat of chocolate or candy, - instead, behind each door was hidden a message of preparation 
for the Great Day.

I see today a combination of the old tradition of Advent Calendars with an awareness of the true meaning of Advent, and hope does that eternal springiness thing in my heart.

For each day a suggestion for random acts of kindness, opening our eyes to the needs that surround us
and the opportunity to make our spirit more lovingly aware.

These are all lovely memories, but the present finds me contemplating a much quieter Christmas.
There will be no Christmas bake sale and coffee morning at the church this year. but this evening I'm going to make the first of the 'eternal' shortbread that I plan to tuck into every family's Christmas bag, and although there is no Christmas pudding there will be family for Christmas dinner.  No magical midnight Eucharist on Christmas Eve as there was in days of yore, alas,
 - but does the hour really matter?

I didn't really mean to meander so long in memory lane, - Christmas is Christmas no matter which generation is celebrating it, and underneath all the commercialization there is still the matter of the heart, where love and generosity reign, and even if one scoffs at angels and shepherds and magi there is always the longing for Peace on Earth and good will to mankind.

So that's what December is all about, - at least for me, and I hope that for you
 it is happy and full of wonder., wonderful baking smells
and the rustle of wrapping paper and tying of bows,
and beneath it all the stillness that brings peace.

Edward Hays, in A Pilgrim's Almanac says

"Take time to be aware that in the very midst of our  busy preparations
for the celebration of Christ's birth in ancient Bethlehem,
Christ is re born in the Bethlehems of our homes and daily lives.

Take time, slow down, be still, be awake to the Divine Mystery
that looks so common and so ordinary
yet is so wondrously present."


Penny said...

Beautifully said.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

I don't remember celebrating Advent at all when I was a youngster. Instead the approach to Christmas was always marked with strange smells lingering in the house in the morning. I soon learned that it was paint, glue, varnish etc. that my father had used while making Christmas toys for us in the evenings after we'd gone to bed.

The Weaver of Grass said...

It has always been my favourite time of year Hildred.

Barb said...

I so enjoy getting handmade gifts from my grandchildren. They are the most special to my heart. I like the advent wreath that emphasises thinking of others. I wish I could taste your shortbread, Hildred. I'm thinking it would be melt in my mouth delicious. Happy Advent to you.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

The Act of Kindness Advent calendar is a wonderful idea. I will share this with my granddaughter. She would love something like this with her boys.