“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
“Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
The Grinch that Stole Christmas or the “Grinchy old Grinch” as my kids call it, is one of my favorite Christmas stories. It combines the hustle bustle of Christmas with the heart of Christmas, “the little bit more”. Think of the 1st Christmas the excitement and joy of the birth of a new baby, such a huge event, in such a simple location.
As we approach the 1st Sunday of Advent like many I am planning what the next 4 weeks will bring to our home. With thoughts of decorating, shopping, and baking I am thinking of how to enjoy the excitement while still keeping the Spirit of Christmas present.
The Advent wreath is one way we try to keep focus on the true meaning of Christmas in our home. We started to observe this church tradition about 4 or 5 years ago. You may have seen an Advent Wreath at your church. Our wreath sits at the center of our dinner table and is lit each night as a reminder of what we are preparing for, the birth of Jesus. We replace our normal mealtime prayer with an advent prayer.
For those that are unfamiliar with an Advent wreath it is a symbol of the spiritual preparation for the birth of Jesus. The wreath contains 4 candles (some add a 5th one on Christmas). Each of the 4 Sundays leading up to Christmas (the 4 Sundays of Advent) an additional candle is lit to correspond to current week. This Sunday, being the first Sunday of Advent, one candle will be lit. Advent wreaths can be as simple as 4 candles in a circle or more elaborate if you like. Our first wreath my oldest daughter brought home form Religious Ed. It was made of green foam with fake evergreen attached and candles pushed into it. Below is a picture of the one we made last year for our house. The traditional way is to have 3 purple candles and one pink. The first 2 weeks and the 4th week being purple and the 3rd week pink (to represent the joy that Christmas is close). Though any color will work, we’ve used all white at times, it’s what you are focusing on that counts.
The kids are always excited about the wreath and wait for their turn, sometimes not so patiently, to light or blow out the candle. So far we haven’t caught anything on fire. You can find advent booklets with bible readings or prayers that correspondence with the lighting of the candles or make some prayers on your own. Remember this is a simple reminder, you don’t have to be fancy with your prayers or your wreath, just add that “little bit more” to your preparations.
I would also encourage you, if you don’t already, to take time to attend Sunday mass or advent services at your church. They bring focus and beauty to the season, and will make the Christmas service mean so much more for you and your children.
Our Advent Wreath
This wreath is made from an approximately 2 inch thick cut from of a log and wrapped in fake evergreen garland. My husband drilled holes in it for tapered candles to fit into. My sisters made a similar one last year but made holes big enough to hold a votive holder instead. Our advent wreath is simple but the beauty is the fire of the candle and each week that beauty grows with an additional candle lit.
This Sunday we are going to make an advent wreath in our religious education classroom. It will be similar, with fake evergreen and votive holders in the middle. We are going to use a mix of Elmer’s glue and water (to make a clear thin consistency) and paste purple or pink tissue paper to a glass votive holder. The picture below is what a finished votive holder looks like.
Good luck with your preparations. If you want some more information on advent or advent wreaths below are a couple of websites:
http://www.catholiccompany.com/advent-wreaths-c1508/ (you can buy wreaths and candles here)