When I was in junior high, I took a trip with the Girl Scouts. We went to Washington DC by bus, spent a couple of nights at an east coast Girl Scout Camp, went to the beach, and the only thing I remember REALLY well was going to Ford's Theater for a live performance of Godspell. The lights went down, and the curtain did not rise. Not right away. Instead, a rope appeared over the audience and the character of John the Baptist descended the rope, singing out
PREPARE YE THE WAY OF THE LORD!
The rest of the performance was wonderful, the whole trip was one of those rites of passage and life experiences that every child should have sometime, but still, the high point for me was animal-skin-clad John and his exhortation to PREPARE.
Perhaps I have taken those instructions a bit too much to heart.
At our house, it is very nearly the Season of the Advent Calendars.
I could blame it all on my Grandmother Stone, known as "Nana" to my generation. When I was about 8 and brother Andrew was about 3, Nana gave us a simple paper Advent calendar, 25 little doors, with a design of angels and children, well encrusted with silver glitter. Andrew and I traded the "opening duties" for the whole month of December, and after Christmas, carefully closed all the little doors and stored the calendar away.
We re-used that little calendar for years, to the point where we had memorized the order of the hidden pictures, and to this day, I can see in my mind's eye December 1 (striped ball), December 2 (sail boat), December 3 (red scooter).
Nana had no idea what she was starting.
Andrew and I eventually had other calendars which I remember clearly, but the tradition really took off when I had my own children. Over the past 20 years, the Advent Calendar Ritual has become a sacred part of December (disregard, for the moment, the fact that Advent does not necessarily begin on December 1 each year, and just play along with the popular culture for now). Some of our Advent traditions require a fair amount of preparation themselves...Mom spends several hours in advance of December 1 preparing to prepare, as it were.
There's only one child still at home now, but he needn't worry. The tradition will continue. Mom has already been preparing to prepare the way.
Check back in on December 1.