The season of Advent is a time of preparation for the birth of Christ. In non-liturgical traditions there isn’t much waiting anymore. The twelve days of Christmas end up being a gimmick to see more stuff and even some churches quit using Christmas carols after the twenty fifth of December.
And yet….most of us find ways to prepare for Christmas: maybe it is putting up a tree, baking a special cookie, planning on a trip to see family or friends. looks forward to a party, or attending special concerts or plays or worship services. Sometimes grief weighs upon us and we don’t prepare at all, instead we find ways to avoid those days and events that bring our grief closer to the surface. A few years ago, I wrote on preparing and remembering
Advent remains important to me. I still like to decorate, although it seems to take a little longer each year. The lights, the trees, the garlands, warm the house with a brightness that is often lacking in the darkness of winter. On one of my trees, I call it my “antique” tree, many of the ornaments are of sentimental value and bring back many memories. The garland is non tarnishing sterling silver. It came from my mother-in-laws things and I have never seen anything like it.
Several of the ornaments were hers, but some come from my family. There are burned out light bulbs from my grandparents tree.
And an inexpensive plastic tree, and three plastic angels and a ceramic angel.
The plastic ornaments were some my mother bought inexpensively, because there was little money for Christmas ornaments. Two of the three have had at least one wing glued back on because they have broken off. I considered throwing them away, but decided I would rather see them year after year hanging in all their tacky glory and remember.
None of those ornaments are “worth” anything except the memories they evoke. No one else may ever want them, they may end up somewhere in a dumpster someday, but for the time being, they belong on my tree, in my home with all the memories that they bring.
Advent encourages waiting and preparing. All around me the world rushes toward Christmas. Preparations are frantic and chaotic. I want to purposefully prepare and wait. I long to savor the moments. I do so as I decorate each tree. While not every ornament on every tree has a memory, many do. I remember people, events, congregations and moments. I can give thanks for each.
The antique tree looks like this:
At night, it is absolutely lovely.
So, today, I am grateful for burned out bulbs, plastic angels and memories. No matter how crazy the season gets, I am finding ways to savor every moment and every memory. Advent invites me to anticipate the light in the darkness, the coming of the Christ who is Emmanuel, God with us.