This year has been a true celebration of the seasons and all that nature has to offer. I feel that blogging has brought me closer in my wanting to move with the treasures of each season and not rush along. So this year, with each Advent Sunday, I will focus on a 'virtual' candle and reflect on what Christmas means to me while sharing some photos of my home.
I waited to start decorating so I have only decorated the entrance hall of my house so far. The first advent candle is traditionally the candle of Expectation or Hope. I found by waiting that my feeling of expectation resembles that of what I felt as a little girl. I was most excited about being able to start setting up the tree. I was bursting while waiting for my mother to say it could go up.
My brother's birthday is on December 17th and my mother made us wait until then. Oh how hard that was! One year, I asked her if I could set it up earlier that year and she said only if I was going to do it all myself. I did and happily. My father, who was from German descent, loved telling us that he never saw the tree until Christmas eve. His parents would set it up in a closed room and only let them see it when it was finished. Thank goodness he did not follow that tradition or I would have burst each year from expectation.
My expectations of Christmas have altered over the years. My husband and I no longer exchange gifts. We pick out two charities and donate money at Christmas. We are grateful that we have so much and feel that Christmas should now be about sharing that with others.
Regardless of your nationality or religion, maybe you can spend some time this week reflecting on your own expectations and hopes for the holidays. I hope it is not spent only in the hustle and bustle of shopping, baking and decorating but also thinking about what makes Christmas important.
I found this quote on the internet and felt it was good to pass on to you today for this first advent as SinterKlaas or St. Nicolaas is this week in Holland. Ponder this in the coming week:
A St. Nicholas’ Note . . . Edward Hays, A Pilgrim’s Almanac (adapted)
"It is fitting that the feast of St. Nicholas comes at the beginning of Advent and the beginning of the shopper’s season. As the patron saint of shoppers he proclaims, ‘Keep it simple!’ Keep it simple enough to fit in a shoe or a stocking.
"One gift that could fit in a…shoe, or in a stocking hanging on the fireplace, is a note that speaks of one of our most precious gifts, the gift of time. Such a St. Nicholas note might read: ‘The gift I give to you is half an hour of quality conversation each night right after the dishes are done.’ Or, ‘The gift I give to you is one Saturday a month to be with you and do whatever you want to do.’ We can appreciate the value of such a gift if we keep in mind that according to a recent survey, the average married couple in America has only 30 minutes a week of communication outside of exchanges that take place at the dinner table, and between parent and child is only 14 minutes. As you can see, the possibilities are almost unlimited for these St. Nicholas shoe gifts.
"Come, St. Nicholas, patron of shoppers and gift-seekers, and make Christmas this year fun, creative and love-filled."
On a separate note, this is what our drive home from Cranberry Cottage looked like. It was snowing heartily in the north. As we drove farther south, it turned to rain but we enjoyed a little bit of a winter wonderland.