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Hallo again to all.

This afternoon we attended a community village Christmas tree lighting. We know it is not yet 1 Advent, yet we didn’t feel the Advent Police stir up in us as it might. Rather, this event signifies the beginning of Christmas preparations in the village. School choirs sing, to encourage Winter Concert attendance and area pastors pray, de facto advertising their congregations. Shops wait until this event for their winter decorating and street lamps on the High Street are bedecked with large shiny snowflakes.

In a way, these celebrations are their own kind of Advent. Realistically, home Advent traditions are few and can be a bit lame. There are Advent wreaths, Advent Calendars, and an empty crèche, but to decorate our home in purple is a bit odd . . . and unwintery.

A few of our friends and relatives wait until Christmas Eve to decorate for Christmas, acknowledging Advent but then spending the time before evening mass in a tizzy of preparation. We understand this inclination but wonder if it may be missing the point. We recently had occasion prepare for the birth of a child. Rather than just 25 days, several months were spent preparing nursery items and accumulating necessary accoutrements. We not only visited the doctor, found a paediatrician, and enjoyed our time as a childless couple—these sorts of preparations—but also set up our life for what was to come. We wonder then if trimming the tree, ironing the Christmas tablecloths, and eating peppermint bark isn't engaging in a time of preparation in its own way.

This is not to suggest that we embrace a consumerist frenzy or do away with services of Advent Lessons and Carols and the haunting hymns of the coming season, but rather that we embrace both: that we embrace the liturgical season of preparation without forgetting our place in a modern community. This thought is also made in the context of Stir Up and Christ the King Sunday. We do find this tree lighting was a bit premature, even as a preparatory sort of gesture, with its place at the end of November, but value it for what it is. Even if it did require Santa Claus to abandon his workshop early to ensure the tree was lit properly.

See you next week.

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25 November 2018

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