This Sunday morning, thousands of Christian Churches across the nation lit the first of four candles on an Advent Wreath in their sanctuaries. Many of those churches will also host an event for families to make their own wreaths for their homes. St. Mark's joined in this tradition for the 50th (or more) time. For many of those years, our youth group traveled to a parishioner's ranch on the east side of the Sandia mountains to gather the greens. When that ranch was sold, we sometime bought a Christmas tree to cut up for greens, sometimes scavenged greens trimmings from Christmas tree lots, and sometimes we asked parishioners to delay trimming their evergreens until late November so we could use them in our wreaths. For the third year in a row, families gathered at our house for a greens gathering hike around our property and then enjoy a potluck lunch. I always serve Santa Fe Chowder (recipe here).
This year the first Sunday of Advent follows fast on the heels of Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah (celebrated by my daughter Brittany's partner's family). Busy, busy, busy! Aren't we all feeling just a little overwhelmed? A Shaker tune keeps running through my head, "Tis A Gift to Be Simple."
This tune was written as a dancing song and I remember hearing it for the first time on one of my favorite childhood TV shows, "Little House on the Prairie." I had always thought it was a Quaker song and was puzzled since I knew Quakers did not believe in dancing. Wikipedia to the rescue! Shaker, not Quaker. As a young adult, I listened to it over and over as part of Aaron Copeland's score for the ballet, Appalachian Spring, my husband's favorite piece of music.
I am resolved to slow down for this holiday season, take more time for prayer, attend an Advent retreat, decorate my home more simply, and be present in all I do.
My wish for all of you is that you take a moment to savor that cider, or eggnog, smell the Christmas greens, and reflect on the love you share with family and friends. Now, I am off to plan the Celebrity Christmas luncheon, help with the Christmas pageant, host a Christmas tea, find the boxes of decorations so I can decide what not to use, and maybe send one or two Christmas cards. Hmm, that resolve did not last for long!