by Lisa Rothman
When I was asked what the meaning of Advent was and what it meant to me earlier this fall I really struggled to come up anything. I realized that my memories of Advent (mainly from college) amounted to everything is purple and you can’t sing Christmas songs in church until Christmas. This started me thinking about what I wanted to do differently this Advent. So for a month or so I planned and planned and each day I had a new plan of what I was going to do this year.
But Advent got the last word. The Friday after Thanksgiving I ushered at the musical The Christmas Schooner which was about the ships that brought Christmas trees to Chicago in the late 1800’s and the dangers they faced in doing so. It hit home for me the importance of traditions and their meaning today in a super busy non-stop world. I realized I finally knew what I wanted to do for Advent explore my family traditions and begin a few new ones. I asked my parents where my ancestors came from (From my mom’s side I am 1/4 Polish, 1/8 swiss, and 1/8 German, From my dad’s side some combo of Romanian, Russian, French, and either Polish or Austria-Hungary). As I continue to take full advantage of many of the holiday events in Chicago (I am amazed at the number), I now can connect more deeply to the traditions of my ancestors.
I am also going back to traditions from when I was growing up. This includes burning a Countdown to Christmas Candle (like an Advent Calendar but instead of opening one door each day you burn an inch a day) and Reading a story a day till Christmas (Not the books I read as a kid but a set of stories online). I am also planning to make latkes for my roommates later in the month.
Some new traditions include reading an Advent devotional online (I am using “Follow the Star” which is a good balance of scripture, devotion, peaceful music, things to think about as you click through each day and helps me experience expectant waiting, if only for a short period each day) as well as writing advent cards to a friend (I have been mailing her a card to open each Sunday in advent and which I have been decorating).
So this Advent I am not avoiding Christmas and I am not sure I am really doing a good job “waiting” (Christmas music has already played in my apartment) but I am remembering. Remembering traditions of my past, remembering that Christmas is about spending time with family and friends and roommates, remembering the magic of this season. My hope is each of you remembers some traditions which bring joy to you this season. Have a very meaningful Advent.