Happy New Year, everyone! This is a pretty exciting Advent for our family because while we await Christ's coming, we also await baby Eva's coming. She should emerge sometime between blue candle number two and the pink candle on the Advent wreath.
What really makes this Advent exciting for us is that it's Maia's first where she actually seems to grasp what's going on. She can participate in the season. Add to this that it's our first holiday season not traveling and my first in awhile where I'm not frantically finishing up papers, and Advent promises to be a growth-filled time.
Given that my husband is a convert to Christianity, we don't have to have a lot of debate about family holiday traditions. In general, mine win out. :) But we've done a little adjusting in light of the liturgical calendar. Admittedly, we went and cut down a tree this weekend. It was awesome! Jeff was a pro; you'd think he'd been cutting down trees his whole life (although this was probably his first). Anyway, we're calling this an Advent tree, and at the moment it's still bare. Each Sunday of Advent we plan on adding one more decoration feature: lights, ornaments, and finally the star. And we won't be lighting it up until Christmas.Maia and I both have chocolate-filled Advent calendars. They're tree-shaped with drawers; they are actually mine from the last two years that I saved. Maia and I refilled them together and put them on the fireplace mantle. I prepped her for how we'd get one piece of chocolate every day until Christmas. But apparently she couldn't wait. When I was in the kitchen cooking dinner that Saturday, she walked in eating a piece of chocolate. "Where'd you get that, Maia?" I asked. "From the Natibity calendar," she said, mid-chew. Sure enough, she'd moved an end table next to the mantle and climbed up, removing Day 18. So I had to move the calendars to the top of the refrigerator.
Maia seems to like the pre-dinner daily lighting of the Advent wreath and singing of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" too, although she keeps trying to persuade us we'd be better off lighting the pink candle. But I think her favorite part of Advent is playing with the Nativity sets. Initially I thought I could keep the family set away from her, especially since she has her own Nativity set. But of course I was wrong on that. So instead I've made a rule that the family set needs to stay in the living room. Maia has already managed to misplace the empty crib, however. Hopefully we can find it before Christmas. Maia also keeps trying to convince me to tell her where I put the baby Jesus... I just tell her that, like baby Eva, Jesus is still in his mommy's tummy. (The figure is actually in Day 24 of my Advent calendar; I thought I'd be unlikely to lose it there.)Of course, for Maia her Nativity set constitutes several toys among many. I have to admit it was a little shocking when she enlisted Fred Flintstone to play the part of her missing Joseph the other day. Then, more recently, her baby Jesus was replaced by Sneezy the dwarf. With the family Christmas set, she's borrowed numerous "aminals" to play the part of the hidden baby Jesus. Her little zebra looked pretty funny in the crib (back before the crib was lost). But the sheep's not so bad... I mean the "lamb of God" symbolism at least makes sense when the sheep is standing in the place of the baby Jesus. But I'll leave you all to your own theological reflection on that.