The tree branches were already there.
Stripped of their Thanksgiving Leaves, they were bare.
Ready for the lovely, colorful Jesse Tree ornaments that I’d downloaded and printed out. The companion readings for each day of Advent, written by Ann Voskamp and courtesy of her wonderful blog, A Holy Experience. were also printed out, hole-punched and placed in a notebook.
We would have a picture perfect Advent:
faces glowing by candlelight,
dear husband reading the Word,
hands clasped in prayer,
and commemorating the Scripture with a special ornament to go on our Jesse Tree.
We would begin to erase the years of Santa that still make me cringe. We would return to what really matters and prepare for the coming of the Messiah with prophets, and history, and Gospel and psalm. Slightly giddy from the success of our Thanksgiving Tree experience, I was sure everything would be perfect!
The first day of Advent, was really, really busy. We were at church for Sunday Worship, then a potluck lunch and a rehearsal, and greening. We all came home and collapsed, Dallas was playing, I think. We ordered chinese takeout, ate in the den, and completely forgot.
Monday night is always hectic. The Daughter has American Heritage Girls and since we are driving in rush hour traffic, we leave when we would normally be fixing dinner. #1 Son has Boy Scouts a little later, but he has to get home from crew practice, shower and grab a snack. Mr. Garner had been teaching Monday and Wednesday nights for months, so we have been in the routine of heating up Sunday’s leftovers for Monday night, with everyone eating when they get home. Anyway, we just forgot.
Tuesday, we were all home for dinner together and we remembered (with a gasp!), and being only a few days behind, we picked up two readings, but didn’t get the ornaments made because we didn’t like thread for the ornaments and I didn’t have any narrow ribbon to use, and I’m not sure what else. So much for picture perfect…
Wednesday night is Children’s Choir at 5:30, a quick dinner and then Adult Choir from 7 – 8:30 PM, later with Lessons and Carols preparation. We came home and collapsed, and we just forgot.
Thursday night… we remembered the readings, which are really wonderful – so – progress! But I didn’t have the ornaments ready – still need ribbon! Two for five, hmmm.
Friday night we had to be at church at 5:45 p.m. to carol at a neighborhood tree lighting event, with dinner to follow. Saturday night we went to my Dad’s for dinner and to decorate his tree with him. By Sunday evening, I realized that our picture-perfectly-planned Season of Observing Advent with Scripture and Prophesy and Ornaments and Readings was already seriously behind and the tree was still bare.
So I decided to we would go ahead and make the ornaments, and catch up. So what if we didn’t get through each and every prophesy or reading? We will do the best we can! Grace for the moment! I even took a few pictures!
Need I tell you? It never got any better.
We would be “on” one day, and “off” for two more. I don’t know how they do it. Those mom bloggers with beautiful photos of cherubic faces, glowing tresses, gleaming table, flickering flames…every night?
Do they ever blow it?
For an entire week? For almost two weeks?
For the entire Advent Season?
An unremitting schedule gets in the way of the deliberate ceremony of observation. We had to prepare in stolen moments…and not all at once but with this child here, and that child there…between rehearsals and school concerts, and the complications of broken dishwashers and cars that didn’t run, choir commitments and a teenager’s hectic social life…
The last few days we managed to consistently gather for the wonderfully poignant readings, but we never got all the ornaments finished…not even the star.
We keep our lights and Christmas decorations up through Epiphany, but today I started picking up here and there, and after plucking Christmas cards off of the kitchen window sills, I gathered up the notebook of readings, and the couple of Jesse Tree Ornaments that never got finished. Gently removing the ornaments that had made it to the tree, I remarked ruefully to my 17-year-old son,
“I hate to take it down, when we barely spent time with it, but I guess we can try again next year.”
“Yeah, we should, it was good.”
“You know, we probably only did a third of the readings this year.”
“Maybe…but I think we all got something out of it…I know I did.”