A friend sent me a Jackie Lawson Advents Calendar, and it brought back vivid memories of enjoying this lovely gift last year, as well as my childhood memories from many years ago.
Advent was a very important time for me in my youth, not only because of its religious significance but also because of the family tradition, which I enjoyed tremendously.
Four Sundays before Christmas an “Adventskranz”, a wreath of fresh pine with four large red candles, was placed in the middle of the dining table. On the four consecutive Sundays before Christmas one candle was lit, starting with one candle on the first Sunday and ending with four lit candles on the Sunday before Christmas. This year the fourth Sunday falls on Christmas Eve which will make it very special for me since it was my Mother’s birthday.
In Germany we gathered around the Advents wreath each Sunday evening to sing and pray. It was very spiritual and festive, and I have fond memories of those special times. When Christmas finally came, I was pumped and ready, and the anticipation built up over the Advent was palpable in me.
Advent also brought the “Advent calendar” which served to count down the days to Christmas. In postwar Germany, chocolates and sweets were rare, and the calendar was a special delight because behind each window was a small chocolate, and my joy at finding a sweet treat during every day of Advent was immense.
Traditions are important. They keep our cultures and memories alive. Having lost my mother at 17, and immigrating to two countries with different ways of celebrating, I maintained a few traditions in my adult life. Advent is one of them. Our wreath is not fresh pine, but it adorns our breakfast table and while we don’t sing, Steve and I meditate in the gentle glow of the candles. It is very peaceful and brings joy into our hearts.
It doesn’t matter what traditions we chose to maintain. The objective is to find something which resonates within us and makes us feel alive and connected to our origins and who we have become. Why is this important you may ask? I believe that in order to live a centered and balanced life, the past and present need to flow harmoniously together. Just a few cherished memories can allow us to achieve this goal.
Advent is a great time to get into our spiritual mode and avoid being consumed by all the hustle and bustle of the holidays. I wish you a most enjoyable holiday season.