When our oldest daughter was decorating for her first Christmas away from home, she asked if she could have the fabric nativity set I had made when she was a baby. I have collected many more nativity sets and was happy to pass that one to her.
She has since gotten married and this year she and her husband are celebrating with their first child – our first grandchild.
I received this picture from her this week:
She wrote: The nativity set is entrancing a new generation of children.
That thought, as well as the picture make me smile.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade signals the beginning of Christmas preparations and traditions around our home. The Advent wreath also triggers the start of our Christmas celebrations too.
If you attend a traditional liturgical church, you lit the first candle of an Advent wreath yesterday. Or, under COVID-19 quarantine, watched the lighting via video like I did.
Unfamiliar with the tradition of Advent? Let me explain.
Advent comes from adventus meaning “coming” or “visit” and includes the four Sundays before Christmas ending on Christmas Eve. Advent also serves as the beginning of the liturgical year for churches.
Modern-day Advent services feature a garland wreath with four candles.
First candle, the “Prophet’s Candle,” symbolizes hope. The prophets of the Old Testament foretold the Messiah’s arrival. The purple color symbolizes royalty, repentance, and fasting.
Second, the “Bethlehem’s Candle,” represents faith. The prophet Micah foretold the Messiah’s birth in Bethlehem. The second candle is also purple to symbolism preparation for the coming king.
Third, the “Shepherd’s Candle,” symbolizes joy. Angels announced the Christ child’s arrival to shepherds. The rose (pink) color rose signifies joy and rejoicing.
Fourth candle, the “Angel’s Candle,” signifies peace. The angels announced that Jesus came to bring peace. It’s also purple to represent the culmination of love through the Messiah.
The (optional) fifth candle, “Christ’s candle,” stands in the middle and represents light and purity of Christ. It is lit on Christmas Day.
You can read more about the symbolism of the advent wreath here.
Individuals sometimes incorporate advent activities into their home holiday traditions when their church does not formally recognize a season of Advent. You can purchase wreath rings and candles. Or, with our COVID-19 holiday restrictions, you might consider constructing your own Advent wreath. Here’s a how-to video.
Observing Advent with an advent wreath is a great way to remember the true meaning of Christmas.
At Thanksgiving we think about all the things we are thankful for. For Chicken Wrangler Sara and I that’s you, our readers.
It’s our tradition to offer this Old Irish Blessing rich in what we wish for you and yours. And, perhaps this crazy, mixed-up, pandemic Thanksgiving Day we all need the thoughts and words more than ever.
Thanksgiving arrives this week for those of us in the United States. Before COVID-19 struck, we had a week filled with family reunions, food, fun, travel, football games, Black Friday, and being thankful.
Not necessarily in that order.
All that was very different from how Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving in 1607. Those were days of prayer, not days of feasting with services deeply grounded in religious beliefs and gratitude to their Heavenly Father.
Some of that changed in 1621 when the Wampanoag Indians were included in the festivities. Dancing, singing secular songs, playing games were added. A very secular celebration that would have shocked those first celebrants.
During this pandemic when we’re being told not to gather at all. Celebrating will be different again. Difficult. Sad.
Thanksgiving won’t be the same as last year’s, which may be a good or bad thing depending on how your day went last year.
But don’t let this pandemic madness stop you from celebrating. Here are four ideas for quarantine celebrations.
Winnie the Pooh was a favorite of my youngest daughter, the older edition, not the Disney character. At nap time we read a chapter from A.A. Milne’s book and then at bedtime we re-read the same chapter.
The stories never got old. Ernest H. Shephard’s illustrations always brought the tales to life.
The wisdom of Pooh and his companions was sometimes beyond her young experience, but Milne’s never failed to impress me with the compassion and insight his characters imparted with humor.
In the midst of this coronavirus pandemic and election mess, I needed something to cheer me up and thought about those Pooh books I’d read to my daughter. I decided to dig out the books.
My daughter’s a grown woman with grown boys herself now. I’m grateful I saved them all these years. I’m also grateful A.A. Milne wrote Winnie the Pooh. Reading it again has sure perked up my attitude.
You know what I discovered?
Piglet’s wise words about gratitude are just as true today as all those years ago.
In fact, in this chaotic world we’re living in right now, I think filling our hearts with gratitude can be key to getting through the days.
I come from a family of veterans which means I have a deep-rooted interest in the day.
My husband is a retired Army officer. My father served in the Army Air Corps as a navigator. My uncle was a Marine on Imo Jima. My cousin was in the Air Force. Three brothers-in-law served in the Navy.
To all those who have answered when called, gone where ordered, and defended our nation with honor, I send a sincere thank you.
I also served as a Department of Army Civilian at Eighth Army Headquarters, Yongsan, South Korea, during the Vietnam War. That time provided the spark for my novel, Love in the Morning Calm. Lily and Alex’s story expanded into a four book series titled PROMISES.
The PROMISES boxed set is now available for a limited time for $.99. Click here to get your copy.
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