Sunday, November 30, 2008

Advent - a season of anticipation

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.


Tracy said...

Your Christmas decorating is lovely, Heidi...and so much enjoyed what you will be looking forward to in the days ahead! During advent here in Norway we light candles each week. I've shared a little of this at my place. Stop in when you can. :o) It looks very frost there...bbbrrr...Keep warm there! ((HUGS))

Susan in SC said...

Your wreath is so pretty. How envious I am of your pretty snow. We just have cold rain here. I love the Advent season as much as I do Christmas. Thanks for sharing.

Brigitta said...

Where was this snow Heidi??? I traveled between Appingedam and Vries today and never saw a single snowflake!!!

Love what you wrote about the gift, fitting in a shoe or sock, I really believe that time and attention are beautiful gifts.

Kim @ Home Is Where The Heart Is said...

Your pictures are so pretty, Heidi.

Nancy said...

I cannot believe Jos got you to leave the North with that snow. Very pretty. At church today, they lit the first advent candle.
Well, you no longer have to wait for your tree, you are in total control
now. I am trying to decide if I am even going to put one up.
Love you, Mom

DebbieSFL said...

Heidi, my birthday is December 15th and my personal celebration is to decorate for Christmas!!! Sometimes it's not too bad to have a birthday so close to the day we celebrate the Christ Child...I think I appreciate the day more.

Rhondi said...

What a beautiful post Heidi. I love the music and everything.
Your home looks so warm and comfortable. I like how you've decorated it so far. Just perfect!
Hugs, Rhondi

Sonja said...

Het begint bij jullie thuis al gezellig kerst-achtig te worden!!Dat belooft weer veel goeds voor de komende maand.

Reginas Cottage said...

HI Heidi
What a wonderful Christmas Decoration
I like the wreath on the mirror.
Oh... and your Christmas ornaments are so pretty.
Fantastic you had snow,I dream of
Have a nice evening!

Mary said...

Lovely post Heidi and the snow must have really helped get you in the holiday mood.

I'm decorating now and just taking my time doing a bit here and a bit there - no rush. Replacing all the white fairy lights outside as the pesky squirrels have chewed on them - not the fence, gate and arbor look bright and welcoming with new bright lights on these chilly nights. Inside I've cut back on displays of Christmas things - got out of hand the past years. This year I haven't even unpacked everything! After seeing the simple, but much more meaningful decor in Europe, I want my home to look like that.

Stay warm dear friend - I've missed hearing from you lately. Hugs - Mary.

Only the under-18's get gifts now, not the adults - that means we can give to a favorite charity where it is truly needed. We all have far too much "stuff".

Anonymous said...

Hi Heidie,
I like the idea of giving christmas / sinterklaas presents in another way... we do it for example with my mothers birthday; she already has so much stuff so we take her out for a day. Touring round in nice areas or villages, drinking a cup of tea somewhere etc. We always say: we give her a memory !
Greetings, Janneke :).

Anonymous said...

Your home is looking beautiful, Heidi!

Carolien said...

Hello Heidi, I loved your St. Nicholas' Note very much! That's what Sinterklaas is all about ...
Our Advent traditions are putting out the Advent star, seeing a big amaryllis bulb grow into marvellous flowers, putting a little angel on a paper Christmas tree(after St. Nicolaas till Christmas eve) and the candles of course.

Have a good Advent time! Hugs, Carolien

Anonymous said...

Wonderful sentiments Heidi...I'm going to 'keep it simple' and fun.
Margaret and Noreen

Mia said...

Your entrance hall looks really lovely and festive, Heidi! And I really loved reading about your Cristmas anticipation when growing up. I do wish we could have it that way when we grow up too. Even though it does sound like you still feel the excitement and anticipation. And to think that you had snow too at Cranberry Cottage. It has been snowing here for tree days now, and the landscape has really changed from wet and soggy into a beautiful white winter wonderland.