“Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing, but of reflection”

Winston Churchill

Every year during advent, I’m determined to slow down long enough to reflect and remember what was given to us that very first Christmas. Advent is such a special time, yet if we’re not mindful, it can get lost in the hustle and bustle of the season.

For our family, we have many Christmas traditions passed down from generation to generation. We value the remembrance of Advent and celebrating this tradition has become one of our most cherished memories. It’s a tradition that dates back to when I was a child and one that we hold onto dearly. Thanks to technology, our family can still “be together” to celebrate Advent, the holiest of holidays.

In today’s world, the importance of tradition is more needed than ever before. With consistency and connection being in short supply, people are longing for more meaningful experiences that offer comfort and security. Embracing a tradition as simple as a family dinner together creates routine, a healthy sense of self-esteem and belonging.

Some readers may be asking, what is a tradition and why is Advent so important?

 A tradition is a routine that’s repeated at a certain time or season and always results in a good experience. For example, it might be chopping down the family Christmas tree or caroling in your neighborhood. The participants include family and or friends that help create these lasting memories. For loved ones who have passed, tradition allows us to remember them as they continue to live on in our hearts.

Advent, which means “coming” in Latin, is celebrated by Christians around the world in preparation and anticipation of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. It is a time for faith communities to remember – through prayer, music, reflection and acts of kindness – what the true meaning of the season is all about.

Advent is marked by the four Sundays before Christmas. It’s simply taking time each day in different ways to get ready for the celebration of Christ’s birth on December 25th.

Here at the homestead, we prepare by proudly displaying the Advent wreath on the coffee table. An artificial or fresh wreath can be used. The circle of the wreath represents no beginning or end, and reminds us of God’s everlasting life.

Around the wreath there are 4 candles, one for each week before Christmas. Each candle has a special meaning with all representing the light that came into the world on Christmas day:

1) The first candle is purple and symbolizes “Hope.”

2) The second candle color is purple and symbolizes “Faith.” Called the “Bethlehem Candle” it reminds us of Joseph and Mary’s journey.

3) The third candle is pink and stands for “Joy.” Also known as the “Shepherd’s Candle” as there was much joy at the birth of Jesus.

4) The fourth purple candle stands for “Peace.” Referred to as the Angel’s candle, the light reminds us of their message of “Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards Men.”

Each Sunday, our family dials in to the homestead by conference call. Kaitlyn lives in California and Jordan is in New York State yet thanks to technology we are “all together!” Taking turns, a short passage is assigned weekly followed by the lighting of the candle. Often the reading is one used in church that morning. What a wonderful way to prepare our hearts and minds for Christmas!

To build excitement and anticipation for children, Advent calendars make great gifts. These fun visuals have a treat or surprise found behind each door from December 1st through the 25th.  Available in stores and online, children can experience the Advent season even at a young age.

I’m blessed to be brought up in a home where family and faith were very important. My children’s grandparents were highly involved in their lives, and it was a true gift to live near “Poppy” and “Gram.” Their experiences of strong values, well-being, much love and a sense of belonging has sustained them through adulthood.

In the Story, “All That I Had” the Shaffer family valued tradition. On Christmas Eve, a fresh pine tree was cut for the children to decorate. Christmas day brought more excitement with a visit from the grandparents, aunts and uncles. As the grown-ups watched, the children opened gifts of a nickel, an orange and a nightgown along with one board game to share. The last present was from Granny: a handmade shirt for the boys and a sparkle dress trimmed in rick rack for the girls. Festivities ended with the family sitting down to Christmas dinner and giving thanks for all of their blessings. These routines were special, predictable and enjoyed for many years.  Today at the age of 98 my mother still remembers these childhood memories with fondness.

Do you recall a tradition that your family had when you were younger? Is it one that you’ve continued or one you’d like to bring back from your childhood? It’s never too late to begin new or continue with an old tradition. If you already have a tradition in place, be sure to observe it. The positive routine and connection is very noticeable and no doubt will help through the most stressful of times.

Celebrating Advent provides our family an opportunity to slow down and connect with one another. The weekly lighting of candles causes us to reflect and remember, while giving real meaning to the most holiest of seasons. Even in a way that will stay with us long after the festivities are over, the tradition of Advent will remain in our hearts for many years to come.

Thank you, readers, for taking time to read my article. Please be safe and look out for one another.


Wishing you a very blessed Christmas,

Kathy Ann Corse, author


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