Posted by: sailingmartha | December 3, 2013

Advent

Yikes, I have not touched this blog in a donkey’s age. Life seems to interfere somehow. Anyway, now that we are in Advent, it seemed like a good time to regroup and write down a bit of what we’ve been doing.

Because the rest of the family is Catholic, I tend to celebrate a hybrid-type Advent. I follow the Orthodox fasting guidelines (how well, I won’t say), and try to get to church services when they’re offered. At home, I teach Advent mainly from the Catholic perspective. We have the traditional 4-candle Advent wreath, and I use various books and/or DVDs every year for our readings. This year, the books I am reading with the kids are: Celebrate Jesus! At Christmas: Family Devotions for Advent through Epiphany by Kimberly Ingalls Reese (includes Scripture readings, lesson, song, activities, and prayers that center around the Advent wreath), and Making Room for Christmas: Preparing a Place for the Christ Child by Herbert Brokering. Making Room is based on the Latin American tradition of Las Posadas – the journey of Mary and Joseph to find shelter for Jesus to be born. It has a reading, a dialogue actually, for each day, set in contemporary times, where Mary and Joseph visit a different place – a farm house, a halfway house, an army barracks, a prison, a hospital, a day care center – and the reactions of the various inhabitants to their plea for shelter. It is a very interesting and  unique take on Advent readings.

Speaking of Las Posadas, the Catholic retreat center near us hosts one every year, and the public is invited. We have gone for the last several years. My husband and sons help with the music. It is a really fun experience. We all gather together and practice the song first, in both Spanish and English. Two children dress as Mary and Joseph. We all process around the grounds of the center, knocking at various doors, and asking (singing) to be let in. The “innkeeper” sends us away each time, until we get to the final door, where we are welcomed in. We then eat cookies and cake and drink hot cider, and sing Christmas carols. Then there are always two pinatas for the kids to break – they love that!

One more book I am reading this year to the kids is The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean. I LOVE this book! It tells about the Jesse Tree in the form of a story between an old cranky wood carver and a young curious boy. It is just a lovely book and the art work is wonderful too. It manages to be reverent while still slyly funny.

For my own Advent reading, I am using A Child in Winter: Advent, Christmas and Epiphany with Caryll Houselander. OK, so she was Catholic, not Orthodox, but I love her writings and this book is fantastic. She has such a mystical, poetic yet direct way of writing that speaks to my soul. These little meditations make this season come alive for me.

St. Nicholas’ feast day is coming up very shortly. We are having a service on Thursday evening (not Friday, thankfully, since we will be out of town) followed by a potluck. I am definitely looking forward to attending. We have never celebrated St. Nicholas Day at home, which I feel kind of badly about. I did buy a sweet little St. Nicholas doll figurine and I have him standing by our Advent wreath. Next year I hope to get his icon and hang it in my icon corner.

So, that is about it for the moment. I will be writing more soon about some new things I’ve been doing, just for fun.

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