Christmas is Coming

Today is the first day of advent. My unofficial deadline by which I try to be through with my Christmas chores so I can observe advent in preparation for Christmas. This year,  we are in a new state, house, and church, mixing our old traditions with our new ones. The decorating inside is complete and the outside would be but is not due to the weather. Maybe tomorrow. 

 First thing this morning Shelton jumped on my bed reminding me that it was the first day of advent and she was ready to start the Jesse Tree. Advent is a season we use to prepare our hearts for the birth of Jesus. Growing up we had the advent wreath and devotionals. I continue that with my children. About ten years ago we added the Jesse Tree to our tradition. This Jesse tree takes various forms each year. Last year Shelton made each ornament with wooden disks and colorful paper. This year we are using handmade wooden ornaments I made with my godfather years ago. They are so special and truly were a labor of love. The tree was made for me eight years ago by a family member who is no longer with us. As we prepare for Christmas I’m reminded of the past and hopeful for the future. 
After church Shelton was ready to light the advent wreath. This year she read the scriptures and prayer. This has been her favorite advent tradition originally because she got to light the candle. Now she loves to read the verse and prayer. She actually had us sit on the couch while she made “a surprise”. It was a foam advent wreath she got at church this morning. She was so proud that she knew “ just how to make it”.  This Sunday we light the Hope candle.
A tradition we’ve done for over 20 years started when  Braxton was little. Her Sunday school teacher always gave a paper white Narcissus in a clear plastic cup with glass beads with a note:
During Advent, we wait and prepare ourselves to celebrate the birth of Jesus. While we wait, enjoy watching your bulb change into a beautiful flower. 

Each year when I pull out the glass beads I think of that sweet Sunday school teacher. 

Christmas jommies are a  tradition we started when Shelton was little. The girls, Scott, and I got all matching flannel Christmas ones. Last year we added Bailey to this tradition. She loves it too…jk… I have no idea but she doesn’t eat them and her demeanor remains cheerful.
I received my first Christmas ornaments when I was born. And from that day I’ve loved collecting Christmas ornaments. The best ones are old, usually homemade, and send me instantly back in time. My girls love their ornaments and adding to their collections too. 
Our new tradition this year is an advent calendar with chocolate!  It’s new this year because it’s the first time I’ve ever seen a chocolate filled advent calendar we can actually eat with Shelton’s allergies. 
There are so many other things we do like angel tree, caroling, Christmas movies, baking cookies and Christmas programs. Trying not to get derailed during advent for me takes a consistent effort and sometimes declining an invitation to keep this sacred time. As the preacher said today “ this was no ordinary birth, it was a life changing birth for everyone”. 
How do you prepare for Christmas in this Advent season? I’d love to know.

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