10 December 2009

Getting Ready: Advent

Advent is the season of preparation and waiting for Christmas.  It begins the fourth Sunday before Christmas, and lasts 'til Christmas Eve.  Then there are, officially, twelve days of Christmas, which end on Epiphany, Jan. 6.  This is the day we remember the Visitation of the Magi.

Many families will have an Advent wreath, with one candle for each Sunday.  Frequently in churches a brief devotion is read, and the appropriate candles lit, before service begins.  In my family, we did things just a bit differently.  (You knew that was coming, didn't you?)

We had an Advent Log.  It had a candle for each day.  Purple, the color of penitence, is used for the weekdays, and white for Sundays.  Every evening we would read a (very quick) devotion.  We used this book, Celebrate While We Wait.  It's written for families with young children, so the readings are very short.  Then there are also suggested Bible readings, songs and hymns, and some activities, which you can use as the children get older.  My parents still do these readings every year, with whatever "children" happen to be around.

The problem, in my house, has been the log.  The last few years, I used styrofoam blocks that the Mad Scientist stuck together and drilled out.  I filled them with evergreens, and they looked very nice, but they weren't the birch log of my childhood.  You may not know this, but birch is rather scarce in the Midwest.

I was completely delighted, earlier this summer, when the Mad Scientist presented me with my very own birch log.  Now it only needed to be prepared to hold candles:

This involved some calculations, which made me very glad I didn't have to do it myself.  The log was a bit shorter than the recommended length, so we really needed to get the spacing for the candle holes right.  The Mad Scientist invited a Chinese co-worker over to "help us decorate the tree."  He's never experienced an American Christmas before.  I'm sure he left thinking we were all completely insane.

I'll be putting up a post with the finished decorations in time for The Nester's holiday house tour, on Monday.  You can see the finished result then.  Meanwhile, the Monkeys helped decorate the tree.  Our lights didn't work, and when the men ran out to the store (only the second emergency trip of the afternoon) they didn't bring home enough lights.  So we only decorated the bottom half:

And I promised them all cookies.  It's a good thing I had some already stashed (Mom sent me home with a box of the secret-family-recipe Sugar Cookies).  Want to know why?  Sure you do:

Yeah, those are supposed to be Mexican Wedding Cakes.   It turns out, if you double all the other ingredients, you really need to double the flour, too.

But a good time was had by all, and now, (only two weeks late) we are prepared for this season of Preparation.

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