This was one of my dad’s favorite ways to tell us we were taking longer to get something done than he would like. He would stand with his hands on his hips and pause dramatically before answering his own question with a possible smart aleck response. But, as kids, the reality was we were always waiting for Christmas.
As a child our family practiced a few different home rituals to prepare and sometimes pass the time until Christmas. As children they helped to fill the interminable anticipation, as parents I’m sure they sometimes felt like a ticking clock, or perhaps like milestones to a finish line. There were the customary secular rituals, the letter to Santa, the family trip to find the perfect tree, the night when we all wore our Christmas pajamas and drank eggnog while decorating the tree with boxes and boxes of ornaments collected over the years. And then there were our Advent traditions, the calendar, the weekly church service, and the nightly prayers around the Advent wreath.
My favorite was always the Advent wreath, the daily reminder that time passes incredibly slowly when you’re hoping and waiting, that you have to light the first candle seven times before you can light the second, and that preparation takes at least twice as long as celebration. In that wreath, a tradition I have carried into my own household, is the reminder of the preciousness of the time we so often while away in worry.
As these last days of Advent pass, I hope you have time to take advantage of the incredible richness of our Christian Advent traditions as they highlight the incarnational reality in which we are called to know God, a reality of passing time, of light and darkness, and of gathering together to find the sacred in our own homes. Only days remain in this holy season, each of which is sacred. May these days and the celebrations to come be blessings to you, your family and the families you serve. We give thanks for all of your work and ministry and look forward to continuing to serve you in the new year.