Sunday, December 03, 2006

Rushing the Season

Guilty as charged.

Yes, we put most of our Advent calendars out on December 1, along with most of the Commercial Christmas Crowd. (MOST of our Advent calendars? How many do these people HAVE, anyway?) Advent, by popular demand, seems to be generally accepted to be December 1-24.

Liturgically, though, it begins today, December 3. This year it does. Last year it began on November 27. You've heard of the movable feast, right?

Really, the formula is pretty easy. Nothing like the determination of Easter, which is The-First-Sunday-After-The-First-Full-Moon-After-The-Spring-Equinox. Sounds more like Druids or Stonehenge than the Son of God! Advent in the "western churches" begins on the 4th Sunday before Christmas. If Christmas itself is on a Monday, Advent it "short". If Christmas is on a Sunday, Advent is "long".

Still, in the interest of conservation of paper, making a general Advent calendar beginning on December 1 isn't a bad compromise.

When the calendar is home made, there's room for improvisation. The pictured calendar was made about 16 years ago when I had more time than common sense; it was a project in the church junior choir group. 18 kids, 18 trees, 18 stars, 18 numbered panels, 18 cut out words of hope, and a cartload of little pictures cut out and glued on to felt discs. Eighteen kids with glue and glitter, too. Like I said, a bit short on common sense.

It has become an absolute family tradition.

Each year, I add a few new pictures cut from last year's Christmas cards and glued on new felt disks and retire a few of the old ones. The number of "ornaments" to be pinned to the tree varies with the year; when necessary, a couple of November days cluster near the bottom of the tree; "gifts", as it were, of a few more days in the season of preparation.

It's most certainly a huge safety hazard for children and cats, what with all the little straight pins holding up the "ornaments" but we like it. It's always been a visual barometer of the season to me...first row empty, second row empty, third row going fast and there are years that instead of my rushing the season, the season rushes to me and past me, leaving me behind in a virtual whirlwind of candles, cookies and Christ.

Today is the first Sunday. It's a day devoted to Prophecy. I never dreamed 16 years ago that the glitter would still be shining on that star today.

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