The Anticipation of Advent

 
      Advent is my favorite time of year. In it's purest form, it is quiet; it is about anticipation. Being with family and a season of reflection. 
   Of course, this is really hard to do in this world where, as of October, we're being bombarded with messages of "you must buy this now!!!" and the feeling that if we aren't frantically piling our schedules with holiday 'merriment' we're somehow doing it wrong.
   That's when I like to turn off the tv, or walk out of the frantic atmosphere of the store I'm in and just....let it go, Elsa style ;)


    Last year I was very very VERY pregnant at Advent. Talk about a personal experience of weary expectation ;) and now I'm headed into Advent with a spider-monkey mobile baby who is currently corralled in a bouncer, giving it all he's got, while babbling at the top of his lungs. And this is what this past year has taught me that I can use for Advent:
    
     - You're not going to get it all done. Be at peace with that. You can do what you can do. Of the 15 things you want to do, be satisfied if you can accomplish 5. Choose carefully what is most important to you, and do those things, and try to do it with a peaceful heart. If you listen to the world around you--- this is a season and a world that wants you to do all the things, no matter what. But all that will lead to is an exhausted mama, and probably a tantrum or two from an over-tired child. Cue Elsa ;)

   -  It's not about the stuff, it's about how you celebrate. Last year I heard some pretty unbelievable things from people when they found out I was due just weeks from Christmas. A highlight was "your kid will hate you if it's birthday is on Christmas!"
    Usually I'd just give them a confused smile and move on; "thanks for the warning that I need to brace myself for my child's future counseling!"
    But I also rebelled against the idea that having a birthday during the most beautiful time of the year would be a cause of sadness. Sure, people might be gathering with family when it's your birthday-- causing a birthday party to be put off a few days; sure, some people might give you a birthday/Christmas gift combo (seemingly the worst thing, ever).
   BUT--- you also get a birthday when there is an almost palpable sense of hope and beauty like no other time of the year; there are songs and treats and special activities going on all around you;  the story of the birth of the Christ Child and your birth are also linked in a rather special way; and yes, mama and daddy will give you things for Christmas AND your birthday, just like they do for your sibling.
   All will be well ;)


    And so, that is my hope for Advent--- for you, and for me. It's funny, I've begun to notice that a lot of my art centers around quiet things. Staring up into the snow filled sky, rocking a baby by the Christmas Eve fire, lighting candles in front of an icon. These, I suppose, are the actions I find meaningful for the season.
    These are the moments that I enjoy, with the most anticipation, during Advent. I hope you get a few of these moments too.

    Til next time,
~H





10 comments

  1. I never thought about it in that way but you are so right Heather- what an absolutely glorious time to have your birthday! I do have a little December baby of my own (not quite so little anymore) but she was born in the first week. She's never seemed to mind sharing her birthday with the start of Advent...if anything she loves it! As do I- the Advent period is one of my absolute favorite times of the year as well.

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  2. Beautiful and encouraging post, Heather! Advent's one of my favorite times of the year as well. It's interesting....but the more I've come to enjoy and focus on it over the years, the more it's seemed to grow in significance. It's funny, but it's almost started being more "new year's" to me than New Year's Day. It's really the start of the church calendar....light springing into the world at the darkest time of year, pointing forward. It's amazing how it starts orienting your mind and emotions.

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  3. I too am looking forward to advent. Your paintings are so beautiful. They speaks peace to me. Blessings friend

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  4. I too love Advent and the opportunity to let peace in and hurriedness go. The discipline of it all is something I keep striving each year to do better at. I have been trying to let November be calm and quiet, but I admit that it has been hard as I sit with my mind racing forward to the December to do list! LOL!! I have a book of Advent readings from the LTP which I have not spent time reading in a few years. This Advent, I am going to do the entire book of readings which start with St. Andrews day and goes through the Baptism of the Lord on January 9. This book also includes readings that are not specifically religious but are pertinent to the season. This year, I am thinking about making a tiny Advent wreath with one candle to sit on my desk so I can light it each time I spend reading. Your painting of the young girl in the snow is a beautiful capture of that Advent feeling of wonder.

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  5. Such a beautiful post heather. I am with you about the adverts & shops. We are lucky as our little town does not start doing Christmas until December, so does the slightly bigger town 8 miles away. We do not like large towns to shop in so miss the Christmas rush. I do like to start early & get gifts etc done so then December is a peaceful time for us filled with family, love & good food.
    Fondly Michelle

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  6. Hi Heather, lovely to meet you! I will have to come back here for sure :) Thanks for leaving me a comment and coming via Apseed's lovely blog! :) I love Advent and the Nativity Fast!!! It's such a special time of year!

    To answer your comment that you put on my blog...I will repost my answer here...

    thanks Heather! Yes, I am an American, converted over 10 years ago now :) For the old calendar the fast starts the day after Thanksgiving so it's easy for my husband and I! For those on the new, they either do it earlier or have a dispensation for that day to eat turkey ...

    How special about your experience with the Kursk Root Icon! I got to see this icon in Ottawa the Dec before my husband and I got engaged; it was a very special experience!

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    1. Lovely to meet you as well! Thanks for taking the time to answer my question about how the Nativity Fast and Thansgiving can work for Orthodox friends!~

      How wonderful you got to see the Kursk Root Icon as well! So, so special! :D

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  7. The meaning of the season does get lost and we really must let it goooo! Hehe! I do adore the hustle and bustle but I try to set some time aside to enjoy the peace and tranquility the Advent season has to bring. I think when I have children I will not like the rapid pace and the now now now atmosphere this time of year can have, but for now I sort of enjoy it.

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  8. i love this time of year too...loving your winter paintings, they capture the feeling so well : )

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  9. Catching up on your lovely blogs, Heather. The thing that I adore about your art is that it IS so peaceful and comforting. The faces of your characters reflect an inner peace that is so sweet. And this post Is such a good reminder to "let it go" and enjoy what Advent and Christmas are meant to be. Thank you for your sweet perspective. ♥

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Each and every comment is appreciated! Thanks for coming to visit me :) ~Heather

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