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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Advent Thoughts

The pine cone wreath made by Laura
This time of year I try hard to block out all the Christmas songs and decorations, so I can live Advent. Visiting family in Austin after Thanksgiving, we missed our usual preparations during the first eight days. Instead, we shared those preparations with our son and his family. But we returned last night so today I began my own welcome for the Divine Messiah. Larry brought up the Advent wreath and I cleaned the family room and set up the creche. What memories are stirred as I add every day to the adornments that fill each room with the spirit of Christmas.

Daddy made the creche and I laugh whenever I put the green branches on the back that are coded to fit into their holders. I never remember my dad without a project. One was painting and crimping little juice cans to make a "building set" of tubes for grandkids. And I know he must have made the little manger for Jesus. There's even a pile of miniature wooden logs that rest beside the stable. St. Joseph would surely have been busy making sure there was plenty of fuel to keep his family toasty warm.

Daddy's crib with the manger waiting for Jesus
The Advent wreath is another memory. The candle holder fits inside a pine cone wreath my sister Laura made, oh so many years ago. Other decorations not yet out will bring memories as well. My sister Peggy had many sewing projects so I'll hang the patchwork Christmas tree and her braided wreath looks beautiful attached to the handle of one of my corner cabinets. My sister Jeanne's crocheted candles will grace the dresser of the guest room as a festive touch for holiday visitors. The three dimensional stuffed Christmas tree son David made in fifth grade will find a special place as will the ceramic tree made by my sister-in-law Kathy. And I've already moved the cut out pineapple son Neil made in fifth grade to add a bit of the historic "Williamsburg Christmas" to our family room. Daughter Jamie's Christmas wreath will welcome visitors at the front door. I'm regretting giving our daughter Tara the toilet paper roll nativity set she made in fourth grade. I thought her children would enjoy it, but I confess I miss it when I open all the old treasures. If she sees this maybe she will gift it back to me for Christmas.

Neil's pineapple adds a Virginia touch
The Christmas tree itself will be filled with handmade ornaments: the many made by daughter Alice and her girls, the counted cross stitch from my sister Susie, the ceramic and felt ornaments from grandchildren and my sister-in-law Kim and niece Melissa, the ones crocheted by my Aunt Dorothy -- even a Santa made by one of my CCD students. But funniest, according to the kids, are the burnt-out iridescent candle lightbulbs I couldn't bear to throw away and turned into ornaments. The kids may laugh, but they reflect the lights on the tree beautifully and remind me of the Christmases when we had little money for decorations.

As I enjoy all the signs of Christmas growing around me, I'll wrap myself in the lovely red prayer shawl my sister-in-law Katie made for me when I was recuperating from surgery in January 2014. That year, as I lay in the recliner with an immobile arm for weeks, I wouldn't let Larry take down the tree. We finally did the day before Ash Wednesday. I wonder how long I will hold tight to Christmas this year.

Among all these decorations, I will love putting out the Christmas quilt all of my siblings and I made for mom with squares decorated by each of our families as well as the crocheted snowflake afghan my friend Mildred surprised me with one Christmas. All of these treasures fill me with gratitude and what a grace that is as Christmas approaches with the greatest gift of all, the Savior of the World. These tokens of love are just a pale imitation of the love of Christ our King who came to save us. The gratitude they inspire is just a tiny reminder of how much gratitude we owe to Him.

Come, Lord Jesus, come!

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