Monday, December 03, 2007

Reminder to Self: Next Year Get the Advent Candles Early

This morning the sweet girl trotted into the kitchen first thing. She changed the magnets on the refrigerator to reflect today's date. And then she added "A 2." "Look at what I did, Mommy! A is for Advent, and 2 means it's the second day." Amen. Happy A 2!


As if one needed any more proof that mainstream culture orders its time and its look differently than the church, here's my two cents on the second day of advent: it's really, really hard to find candles in the correct liturgical colors in regular stores this time of year.

In 2006 I was smart. I bought blue and pink candles on sale at a drugstore in the spring. Just as a side note, we sometimes use medium blue candles rather than purple ones, although purple is the more traditional color for Advent candles. I think that's because our first Episcopal parish, a number of years ago, had switched for a while to the more "modern" liturgical blue. But I digress...

I bought one box of blue and one box of pink last year. And we used some, not all of them. This past weekend I was proud that I was able to find the partially used boxes in the closet. Great! We were all set! Or so I thought.

We still had plenty of pink left (since typically you only place one pink or rose colored candle on the wreath, along with three purple or blue ones) but we only had two blue left. No problem, I thought. We'll just pick up more blue candles, and if we can't find one that matches closely, we'll pick up a set of purple.

But apparently stores don't like to stock those colors this time of year. We had to go to Wal-Mart yesterday (we don't usually shop on a Sunday evening, but D. had been out of town on a youth retreat all weekend, and I'd been sick with a virus). The sweet girl was very excited because we were going to find the rest of the advent candles we needed. Or so we thought.

This was one of those ridiculously large Wal-Marts (is there any other kind?). As in huge. As in they had an entire aisle devoted to nothing but candles. But all of them, I kid you not, were autumnal colors. Browns, creams, oranges, reds, in every imaginable shape and size. "This can't be all the candles they have," I declared, and found a sales associate to ask.

Turns out I was right. They had a whole other aisle full of candles. This was in one of the "Christmas aisles." Confident that somewhere along the line we'd stumble into various colored candles, or perhaps even find a box marked "advent candles" specifically, we sallied forth. I stood for a while facing the shelves, unwilling to believe it. White candles, a few green, a few red. Silver taper candles. Very pretty, those. But not a single candle that looked remotely close to an advent color.

The colors of the advent candles are supposed to remind us...of the solemnity of the season (purple is a penitential color, also a royal one) and the joy and brightness of the season (the rose or pink colored one). Why can't we find those colors in our regular stores and not just small church supply shops and bookstores? Who dictates the color schemes of the seasons, I wonder, or decides what the season is "all about"?

Well, enough whining. We came home candle-less. We gathered around our beautiful wreath, still the one D. and I made together early n in our marriage, and we carefully placed two blue and two pink candles. Not liturgically correct, no, and my sense of stubbornness will probably ensure I keep looking for a while. But at least we were close, and we had a wonderful devotional time of prayer and music together.

Next year, I will go shopping for advent candles in the spring again.


Paul & Kim said...

I think you should just use the one S- made out of crayons! There's something humbling about it!

Paul & Kim said...

I think you should just use the one S- made out of crayons! There's something humbling about it!

Beth said...

You know, you're right! Of course, they wouldn't fit in the wreath (and our slightly beat-up homemade wreath is a long-standing tradition). :-)

Erin said...

Just getting caught up on your blog now, and we've had the same problem finding Advent candles. This year, though, we're so behind we haven't managed to get the wreath out at all... :-\

Beth said...

Joann's Fabrics! I haven't had time to update this post (and probably won't at this point) but I was amazed this past Saturday to walk into a Joann's and find a box of Advent Candles just sitting there on the shelf. Practically the first thing I saw when I got into the store proper. You bet I snatched them up for next year! Now if I can just remember where I put them...

Erin said...

Ooh, I'll have to take a look! 8-)