Advent is one of my favorite parts of the Christmas season. It’s not about the gifts, or food, or decorations, but the waiting and longing for something miraculous to enter my life. While I love Christmas morning and seeing my daughter’s and husband’s faces light up when they pour their stockings on the floor to see what Santa brought or unwrapping the perfect gift, each rip of paper and torn ribbon brings us closer to the end of the holiday. So as much as I enjoy our Christmas festivities, I relish the anticipation even more for it is a time when everything is still possible.
My favorite way to mark advent is with an advent calendar. Some people say they are only for children but I say bah humbug to that. I love advent calendars, though it might surprise those of you who have read past blogs to learn that the ones with the chocolates inside are not my calendar of choice. Don’t get me wrong – chocolate is a gift from the gods, but I prefer my advent calendars to tell me a story.
The traditional advent calendars from the Richard Sellmer Company in Germany are my absolute favorites. Made of thin cardboard printed with lovely winter scenes and adorned with glitter, the town, village, or woods sets the tone. The interior pictures are printed on velum so as you open the doors, the light shines through like a stained glass window. The panels you open are usually doors and windows of the shops and homes in the pictures, allowing you to peek into the lives of the townspeople as they prepare for Christmas. Santa usually shows up on the 6th, Saint Nicolas Day in Germany, and the 24th is always the nativity.
Each window I open tells a visual story of the people, places, and animals in the scenes. Sometimes there is a chimney sweep or a child waiting by the fireplace. A woman might be baking a cake or a choir practicing for Christmas Eve service. As the story unfolds I share in the preparations, at least in my heart.
With the craziness of pre-Christmas to-do lists and activities, my advent calendar helps me to find a bit of calm and experience the simple joy of anticipation. Whichever holiday you celebrate or honor during this time of year, I wish for you the opportunity to savor what is to come rather than rush headlong toward it.
I wish to you all a Happy Advent and Merry Christmas.
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