One of my favorite books to read during the Advent season is Madeleine L'Engle's The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas. I can't remember the first time I read it, but I think I must have been in college. For many years, I had a tradition of reading it sometime before Christmas, often on Christmas Eve (when the climax of the story takes place).
I used to tell myself that when I "grew up" :-) and had a family of my own, I would attempt my own version of the Austin family Advent tradition of doing "one special thing for each day of December." Of course, little did I know how much creativity and energy such a commitment takes!
This year I'm actually trying it, but quietly. In other words, I'm not announcing to my hubby (though I may mention it soon...he loves the book too) or to my four year old that we're trying to do something special and different each day. The sweet girl tends to have something of an obsessive nature at this point, partly her age and partly her temperament, and I don't want her hung up on the concept. But without fanfare, I'm trying to make sure that we do at least something small each day that marks the movement of our hearts toward the celebration of Christmas. It's actually been a help to me, since I've been having a hard time finding time to slow down and reflect this year.
On the 1st, we put up our Christmas stockings. I didn't plan to do that so early, but the sweet girl saw them in one of the boxes I'd taken down from the closet and she got so excited!
On the 2nd, we made our usual Saturday trek to the library, but we checked out Christmas books. One of them is an annual tradition for us: Nikki Grimes' beautiful poetry collection Under the Christmas Tree. We also went to the mall, not really to Christmas shop, but because the sweet girl and I both needed socks! She was more excited about "sock-shopping" than you can imagine. I hope she will always stay so enthused and grateful for necessities! (And yes, we went to the candy store and bought some things for her Daddy's stocking too...with a special Hershey's kiss treat for the sweet girl.)
Yesterday, the 3rd, really could count for several days of "special things." It was the first day of Advent, so we brought out our Advent wreath. We had a special Advent devotional and songs. And all of that was after we went to our county's festival of Christmas trees. We went for the first time last year and loved it; we just barely made it this year as yesterday was the last day of the exhibit. (They auction off the trees and use the proceeds for youth and childrens' programs in the county.) This year was really exciting because the sweet girl really got into picking "her favorite" tree.
Today, the 4th, is Monday...and a busy one at that. I had to work in the morning, D. had to work in the afternoon, and this evening I'm proctoring an exam (which is why I have computer time this early in the evening). The only thing I managed today was to hang the Christmas wreath on our front door.
I'm enjoying this practice though! It reminds me that each day can be festive and beautiful, even in small ways.