Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Advent: Embracing the Season Fully

    Advent is right around the corner - for those of you who don't know, it starts this coming Sunday, December 2nd. It is a time of Preparation as we ponder the Mystery of the Incarnation, the great wonderment of Christ with us. Whilst the rest of the country has been celebrating the "holiday/Christmas" craze since swallowing the last of their Thanksgiving leftovers, I have been formulating in my head how our family will celebrate the season of Advent, which is the Church season Before Christmas. I recently read and re-read (and maybe even re-re-read) these fantastic articles: Holy Time: Observing Advent Instead of Fighting Santa by Haley of Carrots for Michaelmas and Advent's Coming: Keep in Simple! by Simcha Fisher. I encourage you to read them as well. They truly have had me thinking about Advent more than I ever have before. I would like to thank them both for all the pondering moments I have had this past week completely due to these two pieces.

I have to be honest though. When I first read Haley's article, this was pretty much my initial thought process, "Wow. She's a brave soul. Really, decorating the tree? And NO Christmas music. I don't think I could ever do that. I just love it too much." And, that, my friends, is when I began thinking of Advent in a whole new way.

Although I grew up "celebrating" Advent with a family wreath of candles lit in the middle of our dinner table each night, accompanied by prayers and Bible reading, I never gave much thought to purposefully observing out the season of Advent before giving in to the full celebration of the Feast day of the Nativity and the 12 days of Christmas. (Yes, 12 Days of Christmas is after, not before as the radio stations and nearly ever major corporation are convinced of). I'm so grateful for my parents giving us the gift of learning about Advent as well as other traditions that they laid down for our family in preparation for Christ's birth. Most of the churches we attended in my childhood years did not observe the season of Advent. so I'm so thankful for that continuity that my parents ensured was there.

Christmas is my absolute, absolute favorite time of year. As I believe I said in an earlier post, Autumn is a close second. But above all else, I love pretty much everything about Christmas. To be noted, I am talking about the home-y, cozy, being all out ecstatic for the greatest gift of Our Lord given to us, a lowly people Christmas, not the corporate America one (that one makes me shudder). You know the decorating the tree with so many ornaments you wonder if it will stay standing, stringing popcorn and cranberries while watching It's a Wonderful Life, breathing in fresh pine scent while sipping hot cocoa, bursting stockings with oranges in the toe, attending Christmas mass in PJs (well, dressed down for the older folks...), preparing fresh baked goodies for friends + neighbors, ambling around neighborhoods singing with pure joy, setting up nativity creches everywhere, reading the Nativity story from the Gospel of Luke while devouring Jesus' birthday cake... that kind of Christmas.

But this year, our house is going to take on a different approach. We will still fully and all out-ly celebrate Christmas, just not yet. After reading the above two articles, I have been encouraged to rethink how we observe the season of Advent. In the past though observing Advent, I think we've really just put it onto a side by side path with Christmas celebrations as opposed to having Advent practices and then Christmas traditions. My favorite quote from the articles mentioned was this:
"Advent (not New Years) is the beginning of the Christian year and it’s considered a ‘little Lent.’ It’s quiet. It’s somber. It’s full of waiting and hoping. Just as there can be no real celebration of the Resurrection without the pain of Good Friday, there can be no real Christmas without the expectation of Advent."                                                          Haley, Carrots for Michaelmas

So this year, we are aiming to be more somber, less fanfare. More simplicity, less celebration. It will be a sacrifice, perhaps for me even more so than the rest of my family. Sacrifice is healthy for the soul though. Giving and emptying of oneself. Removing distractions, so we can more fully focus.

Then, when Christmas Day does arrive, we will fully embrace each and every exciting moment with new wonderment. I am a lover of tradition, of stories, of passing down one's family heritage to the next generation, so check back tomorrow for the Part II: Advent: Starting Traditions as a Family. I am so excited to begin new things with our family as we begin the true start of the year this coming Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent.

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This post Advent: Embracing the Season Fully first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 27 November 2012

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