It took me a while to figure out precisely what I wanted to do to mark the progress of the Advent season every day, but after reading this and having a conversation over Facebook with Katie Munnik, I found my direction.
We start with the theme of Waiting. Advent is a season of waiting, of expectation and anticipation as well as preparation. We prepare ourselves for The Gift but we also acknowledge The Wait. The long wait for the sun. The long wait for a son. The long wait for a Saviour. Reading through Luke, there are scores of players in the story who are waiting. Zechariah and Elizabeth wait for a child. Zechariah waits to speak. Mary and Joseph wait to be married. Mary waits for her child to be born. Israel waits for the Messiah. The shepherds wait for the nightwatch to end. The Magi wait for the star to show them where to find Him. And of course there's Herod, futilely, malevolently waiting for the Magi to return.
And we: we wait to celebrate again. We wait for the days to lengthen once again, for our Northern world to begin its turn back toward the sun. We wait to sing out joy to the world, the LORD is come! I can understand waiting. Moreover, a 3 year old can understand waiting. She can understand anticipation: she is, in fact, a master.
Here's what we'll be doing: we start with a branch and some yarn. I happened to have a branch painted gold from a long-ago dance recital, so I used that. I have suspended the branch over our dining table from a shelf on the wall using some twill tape. Onto the branch I've draped several random loops of yarn to create a sort of web hanging over the table. Before dinner tomorrow I'll clip 29 very small clothespins or paper clips onto the yarn. I'll also have 29 squares of coloured paper, as well as a few slips of plain white paper, sitting on the shelf above the table. On the table we'll have a candle.
So that's the display we'll have set up for the season. Every evening we'll light the candle and we'll read a short passage, talk about what it means, what part of the story it represents, and about the waiting within that passage. Then we'll take a square of paper, decide as a family what shape might represent that passage (or just what we feel like seeing that day) and we'll cut it out. Stars, hearts, people, doves, snowflakes...We'll cut out the shape and then clip it to the yarn. Every day more and more of the clothespins will be filled up. Some days we'll add some written words as well. By the end we should have a colourful, joyful little array above our table.
I'll be posting the reading for that evening here every day, so feel free to follow along with your family. And I'd love to hear how you are marking this season of anticipation.