Trina L Short (trinalin) wrote,
Trina L Short

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First Sunday of Advent

Today is the first Sunday of Advent for the 2003 holiday season. Advent is a time of anticipation and preparation. It's my favorite aspect to Christmas (even moreso than the getting giving of presents). When Amy and I were very small, the folks started our family Advent tradition. I'm not sure why they started it (other than perhaps our current church doing it) but I wouldn't be surprised if one reason was to calm down little Trina and give her something to think about *other* than opening presents on December 25th.

When we were small, we got Advent Calendars. These were little paper layered things that had little openings. One of the preAdvent traditions was to find the perfect Advent Calendar for each of us. The one I remember best had (bad) jokes in it. Dad always bought a little Advent devotion book and from the First Sunday until Christmas Day, we'd take turns in reading the devotions. (Firstly it was mom and dad reading, then eventually Amy and I joined in.) Eventually, Amy and I no longer needed the Advent Calendars - the devotions did everything that we needed them to do.

Well... As happens in all families, the kids grew up and moved away. OK, so I only moved next door. But before then, I had 4 years of college, then 4 years in Eaton and so dad would buy each of us a devotion book. And I had my Advent Wreath with the 3 purple and 1 pink candle. And the center white candle. Amy did the same when she left home. My own tradition was to listen to Christmas music and read the daily devotion while my candle (or candles) were burning. It was a nice time for serenity in a usually chaotic time.

Several years ago, I read the devotions and realized there was something missing. They didn't make Advent devotions for families with lesbians or gay or for folks who were members of the Jesus Seminar (part of the Westar Institute) or for people whose best friends weren't Christian. And the devotions just didn't work for me anymore. Then I got what I thought was a brilliant idea - why don't we write our own?

I put the idea before the family and it was greeted with mixed results. Mom was a bit panicked about having a written assignment and Amy was busy with BMC (Brethren Mennonite Council for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered Interests) work. I asked if Judi could join in, and everyone liked that idea. Mom, thinking to reduce her number of required writings even further, suggested that I invite Elsa. The more, the merrier, IMO.

So I set up a schedule and we took turns writing our own Advent devotionals. And that year, it was just what I'd been looking for. The following year, we did the same, and it worked pretty well, but by the third year, people were pretty burnt out. (It ain't easy coming up with Advent devotionals!) So last year, the folks and I used the Chicken Soup for the Soul Christmas Treasury as our Advent devotions. We'd randomly pick entries and read them aloud to the others while we basked in the glow of the Advent Wreath. I'm not sure what all Amy did, but she didn't use the Chicken Soup book. :-) (For Christmas Day, last year, she read "A Wish for Wings that Work" by Berkley Breathed.) This year, we'll suppliment the Chicken Soup book with a book by dad's friend Ed Beutner.

So, anyone planning on doing something for Advent this year?

December 3, 2000
The First Sunday of Advent

[Light the first candle of your Advent wreath.]

"Watch out for the..." *thump* "...icy patch."
- Mrs. Fozzie Bear, Muppet's Family Christmas

And with that quote to start this Advent season, Tradition is thrown screaming from the window.

Tradition. Of all of the members of my family, both real and virtual, I'm the one most likely to grab hold of Tradition and not let go. I refuse to change e-mail readers because I'm familiar with Netscape and don't want to learn any other program. I assume that if something is done two years in a row, it must be a new Tradition and we'll have to stick with it. (Memorial Day gathering at the Lake, anyone?)

And yet, despite the usual Tradition of buying books from Cokesbury (or rather, having dad buy us books and us never reimbursing him for them), I wanted A CHANGE. Why? Well, I think the best answer is because sometimes new traditions are in order. Especially when the old ones stop having any real meaning to them. (Even *I* have figured that out.) For the past couple of years, the Advent books have left me feeling a little empty. Maybe it's because I've met so many unique people: Christian, Jewish, Atheistic, or Interdenominational. Maybe it's because my perspective has changed as I've gotten older. (But I haven't grown up - you all know that. :-)) Whatever it is, the magic of the passages has dissipated.

So, I thought maybe we could make our own NEW magic. You see, even more important to me than Tradition is Love. I'll forgo any Tradition if it conflicts with people I love. And if I can get the people that I love dearly to join in a new Tradition, then it might become even more magical than the one it was replacing.

So (cuz I love starting paragraphs with "so"), I decided to start this Advent passage not with a Biblical Passage, but a quote from a video that we Traditionally watch at Christmas. One that I will definitely watch again this year. Because -- just like having my sissy over for Christmas Eve, doing Luminaria before going to Granny's, wearing Christmas socks and sweats whenever I have the chance, wearing a Christmas badge for EVERY day of Advent, and writing my e-mail in Netscape -- there are just some Traditions I refuse to give up. :-)
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