And so, the cozy season approaches and Mama is moving in new directions. With Thanksgiving comes the onset of our family’s Advent traditions. For Christians, Advent was 40 days in penance, prayer, and fasting to prepare for the baptism of new Christians at the January feast of Epiphany (a celebration of the arrival of the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus). It is estimated that this changed somewhere around the 6th century and shifted more to the waiting of the coming of Christ (at his birth).
For my family, as Quakers (who overlap significantly with Christians), we use this season carefully to turn inward. Not in a selfish way. Actually, in a way that removes a lot of the selfishness and greed and bustle of the season. A way that preserves the peace and love and reflection and reverence of the season…
Several years ago, I was seeking an Advent calendar that was more than just candies and gifts. No offense if that’s you’re thing–it just wasn’t mine. I wanted to shut out the commercialism and cultivate deeper things than what I was seeing around me at this time of year. At the time, I faithfully received Garnet Hill‘s catalog by mail (along with 67 other retail catalogs!!!) and that year, they offered the item my family now treasures most: a garland of miniature knitted hats and mittens–each with a number (see the photo at the top of this post). It became my family’s Advent calendar.
I sat long and hard to think of what little activities I could put in each little hat and mitten to spend our days honoring the season and drawing closer to one another. I did some research and found old traditions that I was able to modify into new celebrations. It was wonderful.
My children are now older and as I review some of the activities–they are too “young” to be meaningful for my crew. For example, at ages almost-12 and just-turned-7, both know how to say grace. So “learn how to say grace” isn’t really providing the kind of experience we need any more. But most of the activities are really more about being together than actually learning something or being productive. We have gained a daughter in the years since we started this tradition–and with her come some traditional Guatemalan traditions that need to come into the fold (like Las Posadas).
This weekend, I will need to review, rework and ready ourselves for a season of turning meaningfully inward and closer together. A season to kindle our inward fires to warm ourselves as a family and truly celebrate and cherish what we have been given in one another. Join me…
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