Pictures and posts popped up all over Facebook: Calendars held chocolate or legos. Gifts and trinkets wrapped. Books read and candles lit. It looked like Pinterest took over Facebook for a few days.
One particular picture captured my attention. A family sitting and reading a book. One candle burning brightly. Such a serene, beautiful portrait. Inspirational enough for me to declare a new family tradition, jump over to Amazon, and order a book for Advent.
December second arrived and our new family tradition began. I had a beautiful portrait in my head of what that would look like. There were clues I did not see. Those clues might have
whispered screamed, “GO! RUN! Don’t even try!”
I gathered the family and announced our new family tradition. Over the groans I didn’t notice my husband trying to get my attention. I settled everyone down when my husband whispered, “Um, Honey, can we do this during Half’-time?” Well, it was his birthday and his team was playing… so I quickly informed the kids we would start soon.
“Let’s all get in our pajamas and then we’ll start!” I donned my Christmas PJs just in time for half-time, er… advent. I opened the book and began reading. My voice rose above the murmurs of the kids. There was a fight over the seating. A fight over the dog. A fight over the footrest. Or was it a blanket? Probably both. A fight over someone breathing?! I began to profusely sweat in my flannel PJs. Christmas in Texas sometimes means 80 degrees outside. Inside the temperature was rising even higher than the Texas heat. Dad was checking his phone to see if halftime was over then double checking the score. His voice rose the longer Advent time went. My voice rose over their voices. I may or may not have said such things as:
- “This is Christmas, at least pretend to be happy.”
- “She is your sister. It is OK to sit next to her. You can’t? Oh yes you can! Sit with your arm around her. You don’t want to? Well maybe she can sit in your lap.”
- “Please stop arguing over the dog. Let’s focus on Jesus, not the dog!”
- “I know other families have candy and a calendar. We have some better, each other.”
In the middle of a sentence I closed the book. The Mom Look took over along with The Whisper.
“”This is what I expect of you. (insert long list of behaviors to-do and not-to-do here) We will have this Advent time and we will be respectful.”
After one of those really long This. Is. Serious. pauses, I continued reading.
The kids (finally!) listened and got into the book! The story ended with a climactic scene that left us holding our breath until the next night. Dad ended the Advent time with Scripture and a sweet prayer. He even waited until Amen before the game was turned on.
Tonight is the 14th day of advent. We are only 5 (or 6?) days behind. I have still not captured the magical, inspirational picture.
But we read on.
I ALMOST gave up a dozen different times.
But we read on.
Each night the girls settle a little quicker. There are no more fights or arguments, well… for the most part. (I never even used the whole “Santa is watching” method of invoking good behavior!) The prayers come from the heart. We are reading two sections a day to catch up for missed nights and Dad even wants us to make sure he’s here for Advent.
I’m so glad we read on.
Christmas is creeping closer and my heart is filled with anticipation for the coming of Christ.
“And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven” Luke 1:76-78
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19