Here we are, on the fast track towards Thanksgiving and then the Christmas season--perhaps some of us will do some holiday shopping this week too.
This year, as always, I am looking for ways to keep calm in this time before Christmas (some of us call that time Advent). I keep several kinds of Advent. I am as susceptible to Christmas frenzy as the next person, so for part of Advent, I'm listening to Christmas CDs and baking cookies. But I also try to keep a contemplative corner of Advent, where I am more diligent about reading the sacred texts and lighting the Advent candles.
This year's Old Testament Advent readings come from Isaiah--ah, apocalyptic Isaiah. It has been an apocalyptic year, so these readings feel especially fitting this year.
I have already done some Christmas decorating, but I won't light the small trees that we have until after Thanksgiving, a compromise with my spouse, who doesn't want to move on to Christmas until after Thanksgiving. In a way, I understand.
Last night, I was unwrapping the Christmas ornaments when one crashed to the ground and shattered. It was one of the ones that my spouse's parents had bought as a set when they celebrated their first Christmas together. As my spouse swept up the remains, he said, "That one was my favorite."
In the moments before the crash, we had been talking about bad health habits and how many years we think they take off our lives. And then his favorite ornament from the early years of his parents' now-failed marriage crashes to the floor. If you read that scene in a book, you'd accuse the author of being heavy-handed with the symbolism or the foreshadowing. And yet, that's how it happened.
Perhaps it is the universe's way of telling me that I'm celebrating too early. Or perhaps, sometimes a broken ornament is just a broken ornament.
Over the next few days, I will buy some blue candles for the Advent wreath--the dripless kind this year. Our straw Advent wreath is covered in wax. I do worry about the fire hazard, but we don't leave it unattended.
Some years, I have a Christmas tablescape early on: a red table cloth, a small tree. This year, though, I'm going to commit to Advent on the dining room table. I'll post pictures once I have it set up. And then, on the Monday after the last Sunday in Advent, I'll change out the linens.
Some people are sad when Christmas comes on a Sunday, but I like the extra time in the season that we get this year, with Thanksgiving not as late as it often is, and Christmas at the end of a week-end, the week-end at the end of the week after classes end.
Today is a good day to spend some time planning for the kind of Advent season you'd like to have.