Spirit of Advent

We are to write about Advent this week. I never celebrated Advent when I was growing up; my family was far from religious. When I chose to enter the Catholic Church, I put up Advent wreaths of three purple, one pink/rose candle and did so until some years ago. I am not sure when I stopped or why. Frankly, although I had my kids say prayers with me some of those years, they just never meant a lot. What was comforting is that I would allow them all to burn down while I made preparations during Christmas Eve.
pre-Vatican Council II, (when so much changed), Advent was more of a mini-Lent, complete with sacrifice and some fasting. My husband and I were married on December 3, 1982, which was during Advent. That never would have been allowed in times past.
Maybe there is something to be said with a little sacrifice and spiritual preparation for the celebration of Christmas…Heaven knows this year I need it. I just can’t get into the Christmas spirit.
I have many Christmas decorations and I leave them up until Epiphany, the Coming of the Wise Men, twelve days after Christmas, (as in “The Twelve Days of Christmas”). It used to be a big deal with Christians, but it seems to have basically been lost. Most people are sick of all the Christmas hoopla long before then, but don’t expect me to go through all the trouble of decorating just to take it all down on December 26th.

A few years ago a friend in Mumbai called me the day after Christmas and wished me a “Happy Boxing Day”. That is a custom that never took hold in America. A fellow food blogger in Australia shared her “Boxing Day” experiences with us and it seems a great deal like the American Thanksgiving with food, friends and family, laid-back and relaxed.
But I digress. I sit here with my little Christmas tree up, but it is bare. We had clear, warm weather for several days and I had the foresight to bring the decorations in from the garage, but here the unopened boxes sit. I think part of my problem has been that many radio stations started playing Christmas music exclusively on November 1st, where they used to wait until at least Thanksgiving evening, if not the next day. Frankly, I’m burned out on “Holly, Jolly Christmas” and mind you, I have a fifth grader practicing it on the violin, too, in preparation for his Christmas recital.(Suffice it to say that I am NOT putting money away to buy a Stradivarius.)

But even as I type this I have the oldies station on in the background and Jose Feliciano is wishing me a Merry Christmas from the bottom of his heart in two languages. I am going to take it as a sign, since I really had no idea where I was going with this, (having just gotten my computer back from the PC hospital this afternoon).
I have usually started my Christmas baking by now, but today I will be with my granddaughters and their sister Girl Scouts to whom I am going to teach to decorate Graham cracker “Gingerbread” Houses. I am going to pull out my favorite Christmas CD’s, play my favorite Christmas movies and I’ll get in the mood if it kills me.
So I will sign off, so I can find something appropriate for a grandmother to wear to at least look like she has caught the Christmas Spirit, to spread the joy, if possible.


About Tonette Joyce

Tonette was a once-fledgling lyricists-bookkeeper, turned cook/baker/restaurateur and is now exploring different writing venues,(with a stage play recently completed). She has had poetry and nonfiction articles published in the last few years. Tonette has been married to her only serious boyfriend for more than thirty years and she is, as one person described her, family-oriented almost to a fault. Never mind how others have described her, she is,(shall we say), a sometime traditionalist of eclectic tastes.She has another blog : "Tonette Joyce:Food,Friends,Family" here at WordPress.She and guests share tips and recipes for easy entertaining and helps people to be ready for almost anything.
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10 Responses to Spirit of Advent

  1. Iris B says:

    Oh Tonette, let’s hope the Christmas spirit will reach you soon!
    I’m not religious, that’s why I don’t know the background of many celebrations, but I do go with traditions. What’s the meaning of having three purple and one pink candle ? I can’t recall hearing of that, but the candles needed to be red or white.
    Yes, boxing day. Apologies to all Americans that I joked about your (is it?) Black Friday. Boxing day is the same … now I’ve read somewhere about the background of “boxing day”, but can’t find it. Here they say “you put your present back in the box and return/change it” …. sad sad sad!

    Glad to have you back. We missed you!!!


    • Iris, you have been so welcoming! Thanks you.
      In the Catholic Church, a purple one is lit the first two Sundays of Advent, then the rose one, then a purple,(first one, then two, then three, then four.) I have forgotten the entire reasoning, except that the purples are rather penitential and the rose is for hope.(I should look it up!)
      As I said, my family was very non-religious, but we celebrated ON holidays,(as opposed to actually celebrating THE holiday), and traditions abounded, especially with my mother…that would be a post in itself!
      Boxing Day is an English tradition where the wealthy literally ‘boxed-up’ the left-overs from their Christmas feast and gave them to the poor.This was done December 26th,of course.It spread to other places,I believe because of it also being the feast of St.Stephen, which made charity popular,(if you will) in the song,”Good King Wenceslas”


  2. mjanevalquist says:

    Great blog! I completely understand how you feel, I hope you find your jolly soon. I think some of us have this problem with Christmas because it just doesn’t feel like there is any real feeling behind it anymore. All rushing about, hoping to find the perfect gifts yet completely neglecting the fact that it’s about Christ, family, and friends.


    • You are right.We got off the track of even giving ‘real’ gifts between the adults here. And as I told Iris, one can make it about kindness, family and tradition if they can’t grasp religion. And the music, for too long! Too much of anything is bad… although I will wish you a Holly ,Jolly Christmas,anyway!


  3. I can understand your “burned out on Christmas” feeling. I taught elementary music for fifteen years, and that meant I had to teach and direct Christmas programs. Since I only saw the students once a week, that meant I had to start teaching the songs in October! By December I honestly didn’t care whether or not Santa Claus ever made it to town or not. Having kids around my own house meant I needed to kick up the happiness. Now I’m retired, and the kids are out of the house, but as you say, the radio stations start playing Christmas songs waaaaay too early. Yes, I know how to turn it off. BUT I decided to write another Christmas book – so I was thinking Christmas all summer! No wonder my kids think I’m messed up.

    Anyway, I hope you manage to get some of the holiday happiness back, if only for your grandkids!


    • Thanks,Patricia.I put on green slacks,a holly-print turtleneck and a red over-blouse and made gingerbread houses with the Girl Scouts…even the leaders had a ball! The Christmas stations are on and, since it is ice-storming,I will get the decorations up.
      Writing a Christmas book may be a good idea! I have a kids’ story based on something that happened with mine that has been trying to come out.
      You don’t sound very messed-up to me; our kids just always feel that way!


  4. jeff7salter says:

    With each passing year, I think I get less and less excited about the Christmas season.
    Let me be clear, I still place considerable emphasis on the date selected to honor His birth … and I’m so grateful that God sent His son.
    What I’m less and less excited about is: the commercialization, the kids getting so pumped up with gifts that nothing means much to them anymore, parents (& grandparents) wearing themselves out — & to the verge of bankruptcy — just to be sure that little Johnny gets his $1k computer game console and Little Jenny gets her $1k set of designer dolls.
    And, as others have noted here and elsewhere, the retailers have dragged the Christmas season all the way to Halloween and it’s JUST TOO MUCH. Many of the carols I don’t like anyway, so when I’m assaulted by them a hundred times in six weeks, I go nutso.


  5. Join the nutso brigade, Jeff! But I started explaining to my grandkids since they were tiny that since we care for them so much during the year, feed, help clothe, run back and forth to home, school, after-school activities, Scouts, etc and we do things with them all year , along with little gifts and buying for their fundraisers, that they won’t be getting expensive gifts at Christmas.The other sides of the families can readily afford to show off since they do nothing the rest of the year, but I think the kids are figuring out which is more important.
    Put up a wreath, Jeff; I will be decking my halls this weekend!


  6. pjharjo says:

    Like you, Tonette, I don’t feel like I’m too much in the Christmas mood,either. The only decorations I have up are my Christmas door ornament (outside), and a couple of facsimile candy canes (also both outside the front door). I just haven’t had the time to decorate what with all the time I’ve spent with my momma at the Care Center. But I guess I HAVE been spreading cheer down there! I’ve also decorated my momma’s room with a lit tree and window decals


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