"Calm, cool, and collected gets things done."
I was reminded of this the other day as I removed our Thanksgiving decorations from our porch steps.
Lydia was explaining to me that Thanksgiving was long ago, and it is now Christmas. It was the perfect time to share with her that, "No, it is not Christmas yet. We are in the season of Advent."
Charles Repnow is a freelance writer who lives in Rugby. His column appears alternate Wednesdays in The Minot Daily News.
For some time, Lydia has been aware of the Advent wreath and how we do not light all the candles at once. Since she had a grasp of this, I figured it would be a great time to drop the word "liturgical" on her. She was puzzled until I said, "All you need to remember is this: Lutheran, liturgical and loyal" (Thanks to her first grade teacher, Mrs. Schulz, she recognized that all three words begin with L. In fact, they all had vowels to code.)
O.K. she is listening and still with me. I decided it was only natural to venture into explaining that the liturgical year does not begin with Christmas, but rather with a season called Advent whose purpose is to help Christians prepare themselves for the coming of Christ.
I also explained to her that the word "Advent" means, in fact, "the coming." I remember my Mom telling me the significance of the Advent wreath, and why we prepare our hearts of the coming of Christ.
In our world today, we many times simply do not prepare because, after all, we have cell phones, copy machines, computers for online shopping, etc. which supposedly allow us to do whatever we want at our convenience. Just because these gold horses can deliver the goods often at the last minute they are deemed mighty. Yet they fail to execute the goal of preparing, waiting, and understanding. Is the role of the patient soul disappearing?
Advent has been around for about 1,500 years now. It is almost as old as the celebration of Christmas itself (which began in the fourth century). It is amazing how our desire to have it all can almost wipe out the season of Advent. Recently while visiting with some friends, we began to discuss Advent. One of them said, "Oh, I haven't heard that word in years or in fact, even thought about it."
Point proven! These days we can easily be swallowed up in the "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" and a ton of other secular holiday notions.
As I visited my parents last week at the nursing home, I shared with them that we would be seeing and sharing a meal with them on Christmas Eve. Smiles came to their faces, and I asked my mom what cookie she would like to have included in their Christmas treats.
She immediately said "Mexican wedding cookies." It was there that I was reminded of her sharing the meaning of Advent with me. Our kitchen was small and often mixing was done at our table. I recall her hands mixing these cookies with the Advent wreath as our center piece. As she mixed these cookies, she shared the meaning of Christ coming into the world and into each of our lives. That was how I first came to know of the Season of Advent.
So as Lydia dreams and gets excited about Christmas and her presents (and especially if one of them should happen to be a play kitchen set!), I pause to share with her the importance of Advent. She may not fully understand it; yet, her ears have heard it.
Advent can have much elation such as opening day by day windows of an Advent calendar, setting up of a crche or in my instance, making cookies with the Advent wreath on the table. Lydia, like many children, enjoys listening to the stories of her parents' childhood and traditions practiced. The sharing of memories usually brings forth questions, smiles, laughs and in this situation, the importance of the Advent season.
Take the time to enjoy Advent and share it with others. You will be giving them a gift that will be used for a lifetime. It is also a great reminder that our secular world can be very overpowering when it comes to celebrating Christmas. However, we can apply our own standards. Instead of rushing to remove every pumpkin the day after Thanks- giving, we should think of stepping into Advent as softly as downy flakes embrace boughs on pines.
Advent starts the fourth Sunday before Christmas and extends through Christmas Eve. We still have time to share the season of Advent which allows us to ponder, pause, share, give, and to truly understand the meaning of Christmas.
These cookies have been on the cookie trays at Repnow Christmases since 1952! This year, as all others, we will savor their sweetness as we are surrounded by family during the holiday season.
Marian's Mexican Wedding Cookies
1 cup soft butter or margarine
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Form into balls. Bake at 400 F until creamy tan in color. Roll in powdered sugar while hot. Cool well. Roll again in powdered sugar. These freeze well. In fact, the flavor improves!