Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone, and that means my favorite holiday season is almost here.
No. Not Christmas.
Before I rush headlong into the busy days of shopping lists, gift wrap, and long lines at the post office, I will make some time for enjoying the sweet and simple pleasures of Advent with my family.
Advent is a four-week season of preparation and waiting for the celebration of Christmas Day.
It's a time for slowing down, for setting aside the busy-ness of December, for filling our hearts and minds with the true spirit of Christmas.
It's a time for families to come together, to talk about the angels and the shepherds and the donkeys and the little baby born in a cave on that dark, cold night.
It's a time for gathering up little figures and animals and shavings and tiny manger beds to make nativity scenes, which help us recreate and reflect upon what that time must have been like.
It's a time for an Advent calender of some sort, filled with secret hiding places and special surprises, counting down the days till Christmas. Our family uses this little cupboard as our Advent calendar, where we stash away the smaller bits of our nativity scenes. Each evening, we open one door and take out whatever is inside, talking about how it fits into the story and adding the surprises to our growing nativity display.
It's a time for candles, with one lit for each of the four Sundays of Advent. Years ago, my daughters and I made these tissue paper-covered candle holders in the traditional colors of purple and pink. Each candle bears a name which also serves as the theme of the upcoming week - hope, love, joy and peace.
By lighting the candles and reflecting on how the themes play out in the story of Jesus' birth, my family and I can better balance the craziness of our postmodern holiday world with the tender story of Christmas.
And when we are calmed and soothed and back in touch with the reason for the season, Advent is a time for one more very important thing: chocolate.
* * * * *
Wanna see some of my other Advent wreath arrangements?
* * * * *
* * * * *
Read more about my getting-ready-for-Christmas adventures: