Under the Maple Canopy

Singing Union Songs Since 2009

Celebrating Advent – December 2nd

I had some relief from the pressure in my ears yesterday which gave me the little boost I needed to get my feet under me for Advent.  The light snow flurries falling gently from the sky inspired an idea.  Before lunch the kids got their coats, hats, gloves/mittens, and shoes on so that they could head outside with black construction paper and catch snowflakes.  The entire time they were almost vibrating with excitement.  How soon could they get out of the house?  At first they just ran around holding on to their paper which meant they mostly had snow bouncing off the paper.  It took a little bit of coaxing, but I was able to get them to stand still long enough to catch a few snowflakes.  I was only marginally successful at getting them to hold the paper still enough to take a picture.  By the time they came inside their eyes were shining – it was a huge hit!

Score one for Mom’s Advent planning!

What’s this about Advent?

This light is above all gathered knowledge, and above all descriptions whatsoever, for it is of the nature of him from whom it flows….But he that dwells in the light…dwells in that which never dies.

-Isaac Penington

We take the time between the first Sunday after Thanksgiving through Christmas Day to join generations of people who have gone before us, both in our culture and faith tradition and outside the same, in marking this season by reflecting on the  balance between light and dark.  As the hours of daylight shrink we take time for reflection, resolution, and renewal.  We make time for gift-giving, good will, and kindness.  Most importantly, we welcome the healing powers of warmth back into our world – both physically and spiritually (a big thank you to Dorothy Morrison for putting this into words for me – I always struggled with how to frame it.).  It’s a time to remind ourselves that though we may seek to isolate ourselves from the rhythms of the world around us with our modern comforts we are inextricably linked with the ebb and flow of the seasons.

Growing up we always enjoyed Christmas and had a few cherished traditions.  I’ve spent these last few years fleshing them out a bit so that the events became a more cohesive holiday season while at the same time borrowing from other traditions and cultures to come up with something that fits our family well.  I’ve always aimed for something personal – what we do may not resonate with you and that’s ok.

This year mixed in with the excitement of the holiday is a tiny bit of dread.  My sister is engaged (again) to a man who has very passionate beliefs about Christmas (and birthdays and a number of other holidays and events).  He doesn’t celebrate Christmas because he considers the holiday Satanic.  Round ornaments on trees are particularly worrisome to him…something about people hanging the heads of babies on trees.  I have yet to confirm the things he says outside his own hysterical view of history.   My sister continues to tell my Mom all about the “not causing a weaker brother to stumble” thing.

We can usually avoid most of this drama.  They live quite a distance away and last year he stayed out there while she denied they were back together.  This year he’s coming out to visit.  This will be the second time in three years – the first time was the last time they were engaged.  It made Christmas odd.  We’re not to buy him presents which isn’t the slightest bit of an issue for me.  I’m glad not to have to buy him a present – wouldn’t want to waste the sentiments on someone who wouldn’t be able to see past themselves and value the intention of another.

That’s the thing with him – incapable of acknowledging the importance of one’s intention and instead insisting that if anyone, anywhere, in any point in history might have done the same thing or something similar then you shouldn’t be doing it.

That, and the fact that he uses the term “Pagan” and “Satanic” interchangeably.  They’re not, by the way.  Even I know this…and I’m not a Pagan.

Must remember – this is what makes life so interesting!

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