Today’s the Day: Take Back Christmas, Fighting Commercialization of the Holidays and Celebrating Advent
Sunday, November 27th is more than just the final day of the “Black” shopping weekend following Thanksgiving. It’s the first Sunday in Advent. If you’re someone who doesn’t mind injecting a bit of religion into your Christmas celebration, it’s a great day to start doing so, and to forge a Christmas tradition set apart from the mass commercialization that marks the American Christmas season.
Just what does it mean to celebrate Advent?
Advent is the period of four Sundays preceding Christmas Day. Celebrated by the Catholic church, and many branches of Protestantism, although not all, it is traditionally a quiet time of waiting. Obviously, with Christmas carols playing before Thanksgiving, marking the traditional Advent quiet time is a challenge for most families who choose to mark the occasion.
That’s precisely why I like it so much. (I’m always up for a good challenge!)
In my church, we have a saying: Slow Down. Relax. Quiet. It’s Advent.
Are you going to observe Advent this year?
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If the following post looks familiar to you, it’s because it’s a lightly adapted version of post I ran almost exactly one year ago, to kick off the holiday season. I’ve updated it with photos taken this evening at home, and it’s my contribution to this week’s Green Moms Carnival on Greener Traditions, which will run Thursday over at Green Phone Booth.
With the holiday season now in full swing, it seems parents everywhere are asking, “How can I make our celebration of Christmas more meaningful? What can we do to enjoy the season and take the focus off the few minutes of gift giving on the 25th?”
Taking away the focus on crass materialism has never seemed more important, especially now when so many families are suffering in this continued deep recession. (That’s one reason I fell out of love with Legos this year, as I blogged here).
Take Advent. Yes, Advent. Did you know we’re in the first week of Advent? Advent is a season of waiting. And in our house, the mantra is not “hurry up, rush, shop,” it’s “Slow down. Be quiet. It’s Advent.”
One of my favorite ways of marking Advent is through an Advent calendar. And yes, although we’re technically in the first week of Advent already, it’s not too late to start observing the season of Advent.
Advent calendars mark each day in December up through Christmas Day. They typically tell the story of the Nativity. Some are “permanent” calendars with little doors through which you can hide chocolates or other treats. Others are boxes with the chocolates already hidden inside. And guess what? With today being December 1, that means you get to open up the first little door today, as you see my son doing in the picture below.
This year, I decided to splurge and I actually bought one advent calendar for each of us, unlike last year, when I attempted to share one with my Darling Husband. And yes – you can still find them. I picked this Divine Chocolate Advent Calendar up this evening at the Whole Foods on River Road, Bethesda (although call first, they were selling fast, and there are none at Kentlands!) We love Divine Chocolate – fair trade chocolate from Ghana. And it seems local too, since their corporate offices are right here in DC.
A few years ago, I established a family tradition of leaving the dinner table to read a Christmas story before enjoying a piece of Advent chocolate.
And every year, I tell myself that we’ll continue the tradition of reading after dinner. Yet somehow by the time December rolls around, we’ve fallen out of the habit of reading after dinner. But it’s a great habit to pick up again each year. So join me – bring out the Christmas books, enjoy a piece of Advent chocolate (just 20 calories!) and Relax. Slow Down. It’s Advent.
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