Do you have an Advent calendar? Twenty-five little boxes of prizes: candy, wine, socks, Legos, or all other manners of toys and trinkets? These calendars have gained all kinds of popularity over the past years. My kids have had Star Wars versions for the past several years — and a highlight of their morning each day in December is punching open the little box to see what treasure is inside.
The season of Advent is upon us.
As much as I love the little calendars, Advent to me means something different than twenty-five days of surprises. In the Christian tradition, Advent is the season directly before December 25. The season begins four Sundays before Christmas day and is often represented by a wreath with four candles, plus one large candle in the center. Each Sunday during the season another candle is lit until you come to Christmas day when all five candles are lit together. Sometimes the candles are blue, and sometimes they are purple with one pink candle. The center candle is usually white and called the “Christ” candle.
Each candle is used to represent feelings of the season: hope, love, joy, and peace. In some traditions, the candles also represent the people and places associated with the Christmas story: the prophets, Bethlehem, the shepherds or Mary, and the angels. However the candles are named or represented, they help mark a journey of waiting and preparing through a season that is too often marked by busyness and rushing.
I love the season of Advent.
For me, Advent represents a period of time where I am called to quiet my heart and mind, to rest, to prepare, and to wait. In our busy culture, waiting is something that we often are not very good at. During the holiday season, there is so much pressure to do, do, do, and go, go, go. It is somewhat counter-cultural to be asked during this time to take time to simply be. To take time to talk about values and to appreciate traditions. To love one another and to be patient as we wait and prepare for the holiday celebrations.
Wishing You Well.
Friends, whatever your traditions are during this holiday season, I wish you the blessings of Advent. I hope that you can take a few minutes to relax with those that you love. Talk about the traditions that are important to you and the things that you believe in your family.
Relish those opportunities to pass on those stories and traditions to your children and the next generation. Sit with someone who is hurting during this season. Make space in your own joy for their pain and sorrow. Wait with them, be quiet with them. Take the time to really prepare your heart for whatever holidays your family celebrates.
I promise you, the time in preparation and patience is worth it. It makes the celebration so much sweeter.
But also, do go get your favorite Advent calendar. Even though we’re waiting, and preparing, it is always fun to make those memories.
Happy Holidays friends.
More Holiday Fun in the Iowa City Area