Sunday, December 03, 2006

Makeshift Advent

Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat
Please to put a penny in the old man's hat;
If you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do,
If you haven't got a ha'penny then God bless you!

The first day of Advent! Christmas is coming! ... which flipped my brain into this half-forgotten nursery rhyme, and I had to google for the rest. Having found it, I may as well share it :). I have always loved Christmas and preparing for it, even when I was not practicing any form of Christian faith - so much so that the anticipation of Christmas led me to attend my first ever Mass on the First Sunday of Advent, 1985.

The Advent Wreath is not mine. Our Advent Wreath is a cobbled together mix of a wooden candle ring and greeen tinsel and purple ribbon wrapped round a wire coathanger. Purple candles were not to be had anywhere in town this year (or last, when we made do with silver). Then I noticed that I still had a row of four pinkish / purplish candles set out on a tray for Halloween and thought they would do nicely for Advent, with some holly trimmings. Nice idea, but the only place I can think of where there is lots of holly is our local country park - ancient woodland, and a site of special scientific interest from which visitors are not supposed to move so much as a twig for fear of upsetting the delicate ecological balance. Life has been so busy that I never got the chance to hunt for an alternative. So now I am left with a makeshift Advent Wreath that has seen better days and has no candles, or a decidedly un-Adventy row of undecorated candles. I think I will go with the second option, and add decorations as and when I can.

The Advent Wreath - or lack of it - sets the tone for our Advent this year, which is going to be a makeshift one. I sat down last week to plan for Advent. I read through all the wonderful ideas from Jenn's Loveliness of Advent fair and started a list of things I wanted to do. I even wrote most of a blog post about my Advent plans. But lying in bed that night trying to work out how we would fit everything in I was hit by the realisation that we simply wouldn't. I wasn't being realistic. This year is an exceptional year. Between trying to get through as much decluttering and organising of Mum's house as I can before her hip replacement surgery, supporting her through the surgery, and taking on various extra Christmas preparation tasks on her behalf (not to mention that Angel has seven band concerts and carol playing sessions in eleven days ... eek!) the key has to be simplicity. So this is our scaled down Advent plan:

Jesse / Advent Tree - make new, simple decorations to hang on our Jesse tree, which I want to transform into an Advent tree (inspired by Katherine at A Living Education). We will also re-read The Jesse Tree by Geraldine MacCaughrean.

Saint Nicholas and Icons - read The Real Santa Claus by Marianna Meyer, Brother Joseph Painter of Icons, by Fr.Augustine deNoble and The Miracle of St Nicholas by Gloria Whelan. Make Saint Nicholas icons.

O Antiphons - make a set of O Antiphon decorations for our Advent tree. Angel made a fish using an idea from a TV show (Art Attack), and I think the technique would work beautifully for tree decorations. More on this later.

Light our Advent candles and say the Angelus daily.

Read Dickens' A Christmas Carol to Angel and Tolkien's Letters to Father Christmas to Star.

I also have a list of various activities and Christmas preparations I will pick from as and when we have time.

I desperately wanted to use Alice's Advent Cube idea, but had to admit to myself that it just wasn't going to happen this year. This Advent there are bound to be days that would get missed - possibly many days - and we would end up with half a nativity scene and goodness knows what other deficiencies!


Romany said...

That's your scaled down version, Kathryn? {g}

Is there any point in cautioning you not to overdo things before Christmas?


Romany said...

Oh I forgot to say, I'm leading an Advent-wreath making session for some home-school families next week. I found lots of purple candles but no pink ones! I have scouts out looking...


Alice said...

It sounds as if your Advent is going to be wonderful!

Karen E. said...

I had to laugh at Romany's comment .... :-) A blessed Advent!