My 94 year old mother-in-law arrived on Thanksgiving with 8 Advent calendars. One for each of her great grandchildren.. Each calendar has 24 little door openings with a chocolate hidden behind. She did not give them that night and when I found them the next day, I thought this is something I want my grandchildren to remember as my children remember my mother bringing chocolate Santas and Advent calendars to them. A sweet gift from a special person in their lives.
Growing up, my memories of Advent go back to my early Lankenau School roots. Entering chapel, on the first Advent morning, I would see the huge wrought iron Advent wreath, trimmed with Christmas greens and bearing 24 tall white candles hanging high above the sanctuary. We would sing "Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel" and we knew that our favorite time of year was beginning. The readings were filled with anticipation and the excitement of knowing that soon we would be celebrating the birth of Jesus.
For my children, the lighting of the first candle on the Advent wreath and the opening of the first window of a German Advent calendar sprinkled with glitter, meant that Christmas was coming. That first night, our family would draw names and, during the advent season, we would do something special each day for the person whose name we drew. Many mornings I would wake up to find toothpaste spread on my waiting tooth brush. A thoughtful gesture from a young child.
Even though my children are grown, a wreath and a calendar are still a a part of my advent season. Not long ago, my friend Christine, who was born on Christmas day, made for me a felt Advent calendar featuring a Christmas tree with 24 pockets each containing a felt object that she had created. It hangs in a place where my grandchildren can decorate it themselves. It is so cute to see them attach an ornament, then step back to admire where it has been placed.
With the lighting of each candle, and the opening of each door, may we be filled with the excitement and joy that we experienced as children as we wait for Christmas morn.