Today marks the beginning of Advent. It is a time of preparation for a celebration of the greatest Gift of all. This morning in his sermon, our priest reflected on the Advent hymn, "My Soul in Stillness Waits."
The song begins: "For you oh Lord, my soul in stillness waits. Truly, my hope is in you."
His comment was, "Really? In stillness? Is there any stillness in this season anymore?"
He presented a good question. How can we prepare ourselves for the true meaning of Christmas if there is no stillness? And how do we find that stillness?
So today, we started Advent here at home, and we will try to give the season its due instead of rushing toward Christmas.
I set out the Advent wreath and we read a prayer and lit the candles. We brought out the small manger and the pile of hay so the kids each can put one piece of hay a day in the manger to make a nice bed for the Baby Jesus.
Later I brought out their Christmas stockings and we talked about how Christmas was coming, but we had to get ready for the Baby Jesus. And yes, Santa came up, but that's OK, he's part of our Christmas celebration. My kids all know that we celebrate Jesus' birthday on Christmas, and Santa brings us gifts to help celebrate Jesus' birth.
The kids' soft nativity is out, and they are busy playing with it. I despair of ever being able to find all the pieces come Christmas, but that's OK, too. That's just how a house full of busy little people explores and understands this wondrous season.
Finally, we started our Advent tradition of unwrapping and reading a special Christmas book. Every year I wrap up all of our Christmas books, some of which are about Jesus and some of which are about Santa Claus and gingerbread houses. I save "Twas the Night Before Christmas" for Christmas Eve, marking it by wrapping it in special paper.
Every night of Advent the kids take turns choosing a book to unwrap, and we read it together. I have about 20 books now, and I will fill in the gaps by borrowing a few from the library. I just have to make sure we open those first in case they need to go back! (Note to self: Wrap ALL library books in the same kind of paper.) Tonight's book was "Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale" by Martin Waddell.
We'll get to the cookies and the tree and all the other pieces of Christmas eventually, but for now, we're trying to find a little stillness in which to prepare ourselves.