Christmas music softly drifted through the house as we dined by candlelight. We were beginning our new tradition of an Advent Wreath. Each Sunday leading up Christmas, we would light a candle and read Bible verses about the real Christmas Story. We lit the first candle before we all sat down to a hot meal. I smiled as all five of us began to savor our time together. It was perfect.
Yes, that's exactly what I pictured as I made a list of things I'd like to do this special season. Instead, this first Sunday of Advent, I found myself in the store buying a small pre-lit green foil tree. I had decided to trade the Advent Wreath for a tree. I swapped the candles for 24 miniature books that paraphrased the Christmas Story. Why? Well, honestly it was because I bought the small books a few years ago and we'd yet to use them. Also, I loved the idea of a small tree in our family room. The fact that it would eventually be covered with book ornaments only made my decision easier. You see, I have a bit of an obsession with books. Perhaps if I was a bit more honest, the real reason was that I was only planning on an Advent Wreath because it seemed like the thing that we should do. It's taken me a while to learn that should is a tricky word.
As a mom, there is no end to the things that it seems I should do for my children. One of the best lessons as a parent is learning what we should do for our families. As I thought through what an Advent Wreath would look like for my family, I realized there would likely be lots of squabbling over who got to blow out the candles. Not only that, but my kiddos would likely only be thinking about or actually trying to blow out the candles while we were trying to get them to focus on the verses. Sure, they might have surprised us and sat like angels, but there was still a greater chance that the wreath would lead to more frustration than the "Book Tree."
So, this year we've have our little tree, our big tree, stockings and a few other simple decorations. The kids and I are also writing in thankful journals most days to help us stay focused on our blessings during this season when everywhere we look there are messages telling us to buy more and more. Also, in an effort to shift away from the candy-filled calendars, each of the kids has a small toy advent calendar. This may seem like a lot to some and perhaps it is, but it works for us this year and that's what matters. So what if two boxes of decorations stay in the basement waiting to make an appearance another year. They might be just right the year we do decide to do an Advent Wreath. Keeping it a tad more simple will help us spend more time with each other and more importantly, spend more time reflecting on the real meaning of Christmas. Now that sounds like something we should do!