Advent

By Sibella Giorello
Consider the bride’s walk down the aisle. We all know where
that woman in the white is going but somehow waiting for her to arrive at the
altar is an essential part of the ceremony. In fact, the waiting is so
essential that even cheapskate Vegas chapels include wedding marches.
Why?
Because the wait adds meaning to the
moment.
At Christmas time, we tend to forget this essential truth
about anticipation. We’re lost to shopping malls and checklists, rushing toward
December 25th so quickly that we forget the quiet joy of the month’s other 24
days — and then we wonder why we feel so empty on the 26th, amid ribbons and
wrapping paper and our best intentions.
Because the wait adds meaning to the moment.
And that is why Advent is so important to Christmas.
I’m as guilty as the next harried person. This Advent was
particularly tricky because just six hours before it started, I was still
trying to finish a 110,000-word novel that was written over the course of the
year — written while homeschooling my kids, keeping my hubby happy, and
generally making sure the house didn’t fall down around us.
It’s an understatement to say my free time is
limited. But waiting adds meaning, and Advent is crucial to Christmas, so I’ve
devised several Advent traditions that are simple, powerful and easy to keep
even amid the seasonal rush.
When my kids outgrew the simple Advent calendars around age
7, I stole an idea from my writer friend Shelly Ngo (as T.S. Eliot said,
“Mediocre writers borrow. Great writers steal.” Indulge me.)
Here’s how it goes: Find 24 great
Christmas books, wrap them individually and place then under the tree. On the
first day of Advent, take turns picking which book to open. When we did this,
we would cuddle under a blanket and read aloud — oh, the wonder, the magic! We
savored “The Polar Express,” howled with “How Murray Saved
Christmas,” and fell silent at the end of “The Tale of The Three
Trees” (note: some of the picture books I chose were not explicitly about
Christmas but they always echoed the message that Jesus came to earth to save
us from ourselves and to love us beyond our wildest imagination. In that
category, Angela Hunt’s retelling of The Three Trees definitely hits the
Yuletide bull’s eye).
This Advent tradition lasted for about five years. It gave
us rich daily discussions about the season’s real meaning, without being
religious or legalistic, and it increased family couch time. But like the
lift-the-flap calendars, my kids outgrew the picture books.
Because the wait adds meaning, and Advent is crucial, I
prayed for another way to celebrate anticipation of Christmas. By the grace of
God, last year I found an enormous Advent calendar on  clearance at
Pottery Barn. Made of burlap, it has large pockets big enough to hold some
serious bounty.
 
But my husband and I didn’t want the kids focusing only on
the materialist stuff for Advent — we already fight that on Christmas day. We
decided to fill the daily pockets with simple necessities and small gift cards.
We also printed out the nativity story from Luke 2:1-21 in a
large-sized font and cut each verse out. From Day 1 to Day 21, there is one
verse to read aloud. The kids memorize it, then get to open their present (again,
on alternating days for each person). Then we tape the verse to the wall in
order. By Day 22, all the verses are on the wall, in order, and the kids now
try to recite the entire nativity story from memory. That’s not as difficult as
it sounds because they’ve been memorizing one verse each day. Still, the entire
recitation — verbatim — usually requires Day 23 and Day 24. Whoever does
memorize the entire thing — without mistakes —  earns a bonus gift
of $25.
Does that sounds extravagant?
It is.
Because we want our kids to understand that God came down
and humbled himself and taught us about love right before He suffered and died
on behalf of the undeserving — which is every one of us.
“That’s” extravagant.
And in the waiting, we find even more
meaning.

***
Sibella Giorello writes
the Raleigh Harmon mystery series which won the Christy Award with its first
book “The Stones Cry Out.” She lives in Washington state with her
husband and children, and often wishes there were 36 hours in a day.
Enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from some of today’s most beloved writer’s (Tricia Goyer, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, Sibella Giorello and more)! Please follow the series through Christmas day as each contributor shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year.
AND just for fun … there’s also a giveaway! Fill out this simple {form} and enter for a chance to win a beautiful pearl necklace and earring set ($450 value). Contest runs 12/14 – 12/25 and the winner will on 1/1. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents. You may enter once per day.
If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

*** 

A penny for your thoughts? To leave a comment, click on “Links to this Post” below.