Sunday, November 29, 2015

The first Sunday of Advent

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
 (John 1:5) 

The Castro home is all a-glitter nowadays. Lights sparkling in every room, trees of all sizes in every room, dripping with handprint santas and painted glass balls. The music station has long since been turned to the coos of Mercy Me and John Denver delivering the background for the happiest time of year, and cookies and pies in the oven are on a regular name basis with the bellies of the household. It's Christmastime!
The countdown has begun, and November's tail is almost out of sight as December arrives.
(Not that you can really tell, since for some reason I decided to leave my camera's ISO at like a bajillion for the last few weeks...)

My Grantie Sakaye's cookie recipe has found it's way to the mixer and there are POUNDS of dough now in the freezer, awaiting its chance to be made into a batch of the yummiest yummies ever there were. 
Oh, and rainbow cocoa for the WIN!!

Our tree.
Every year there are less glass ornament balls, and a few more pictures, a few more yearly ornaments, and always a new pair of wings for Eli.
It's not beautiful and coordinated. It's never going to be in a magazine of show homes or be pinned a bazillion times on pinterest, but it's the only one like it, and it's the only one that has our family's photos since our family began. The only one that has ornaments from Emma's first Christmas at Disneyland and Evan's first ride on the Christmas Train. The only one that has the sweet ornament from Eli's memorial service, always hung on the highest bough.
The only one that has memories that warm my soul like a hot cuppa coffee on a snowy day.
Our tree.

The big coats have made their arrivals, and last years have made their way to the ever-growing donation boxes for someone else to snuggle inside of this winter.

Every year, I spend many hours sitting by our tree, reflecting on Christmases past, and writing out a new advent plan for the year. I take bits and pieces of advents from the past, and add some new. I love the way my kids grow in faith each year, and this is the one time during the year that I can really ensure that among the Santas and cookies and flying reindeer, there really is one reason for Christmas, and it has nothing to do with elves on shelves and how many presents are under the tree. 

So tonight, on the first Sunday of advent, we began to fill our souls with the story of Christmas.
They each had verses to look up and read...

...and the first candle was lit. The candle of HOPE. We talked about things we hope for and what people back then may have hoped for.

During dinner, Daddy read us a story that somewhat followed our verses of the evening, in a simpler way.
And then we began our advent project.
I gave the kids strips of paper and a marker. On each one, they wrote the name of a person or family that we love, or admire, or think of often, or a combination of them all.

And then, we stapled them all together in a chain.

The chain hangs over our dining nook, and every night until Christmas, we will say a special prayer at our dinner blessing for the name on the chain link of the day.

It was a countdown chain.
With a bigger purpose.

And so, advent has officially begun.

Have a happy week!
Our verses + songs for Sunday #1:
Luke 2:1-5 Oh Little Town of Bethlehem
Luke 2:6-7 Away in a Manger


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