I have said this before but I want to say again that I realize that not all who read my blog share my perspective on faith. I also acknowledge that even if you do share my faith perspective, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you share all of my thoughts. I trust however, that as you are reading my blog, that you are willing to follow my journey as I am living it and somewhat stumblingly attempting to articulate my thoughts in written form.
It seems to me that often the Advent or Christmas season is divided up into two sections, one being fun and the other being spiritual. The fun often implies gifts, baking, parties, stockings and of course, the jolly old fellow Santa. Spiritual, in my circles at least, includes the Christmas Story of the birth of Jesus, church services, and advent programs. Some focus more on one aspect while others strive for a balance between the two and still others leave one or the other out all together.
As we have begun our own family in the past seven years we have spent a great deal of time thinking about the way that we look at and practice everything, including Christmas. I have shared in the past how our focus is on the Advent or the coming of Christ rather than the season of Christmas. Perhaps at that statement you are thinking, “Okay, so they focus on the spiritual.” However, what I would like to say is that we don’t really separate the spiritual from the other aspects of our lives. It is true that Santa will not be making an appearance on Christmas Eve at our house or if he should, he will need to go to the fridge to find his own milk and cookies. And it is also true that there will only be three or four gifts total beneath our tree. Beginning on November 27, we will commence our daily readings, songs and lighting of our candle, culminating in the lighting of the Christ Candle on Christmas Eve and then continuing into the season of Epiphany. We will have a few special treats, our house will be decorated, we eagerly await Tree day, songs of the season will play most of December, we will welcome guests into our home and will enjoy being present in the homes of others. Our children are still young but they are quickly learning that the next weeks are their mama’s most favorite of all the year. Aneliese’s eyes already dance with the memories that she has of last year’s Advent (and amazingly the one before that!). We will try to share the spirit of Christ with others in simple ways and we will find great pleasure in doing so. Not everything that we do or the traditions that we have show a direct correlation to Advent and we are okay with that. Yet for our family, we have chosen to leave out aspects that for us (and I really mean for us) detract even subtly from our recognition of the story of Jesus being our delight.
Perhaps what I am trying to say is that the “spiritual” aspect of Christmas is also “fun”. I may have a different tale to tell as my children grow to be teenagers because I know that small children find delight in basically whatever their parents enjoy, but at this stage, we love our practice of Advent. Our girls find complete joy in opening stockings that they know were carefully filled by Mama and Daddy, they embrace the mystery of a baby born in a manger and yet was God, the journey of the expectation of the Christ Child to the appearance of the Wise Men holds them rapt from the end of November into January (and beyond). Oh, through out our readings we don’t shy away from the pain of waiting, the fears of hope unanswered but even with in that is wrapped the delight of a child. With the practice of Advent, there is still so much fun to be had. Hope, Joy, Peace, Love, and the Christ Child, God among us, what an unexplainable mystery and delight.
I hope to share a little more as we begin Advent this coming Sunday. I would also love to hear your thoughts on Christmas, Advent, and ways that you celebrate. If Advent is new to you and you would like to read a little about it, I wrote about it last year here, here, here, here, and here; I also shared some resources that I have found helpful within those posts.