Advent was not a word that I heard in my church growing up. There was no distinction between Christmas carols and Advent songs. It did not matter if it was December 4th or 24th, we sang Joy to the World the Lord is Come. There was no Advent theme; no message of waiting in wondrous expectation. There was no Advent wreath in our church – no candle of hope, peace, joy, love.
However, at home was a different story. My family had an Advent wreath that we lit each night before we ate dinner. Each year after Thanksgiving, my mom would go in the basement and dig out the wreath. This was not a fancy wreath. It was made of fake greenery stuck in a Styrofoam floral ring. There were holes cut out of the Styrofoam where the candles went. My mom also had this little booklet that had a reading for each Sunday, and from year to year we would read the same scripture and same inspirational messages. I remember the feeling of pride that I felt when I was finally old enough to take my turn reading from the booklet.
I have to admit though that I was not always so eager to participate in this particular family ritual. I recall feelings of ambivalence and even embarrassment when I was a teenager. In my eyes, this family tradition was just plain weird. I did not know anyone else whose family had an Advent wreath. If it hadn’t been for that little booklet that was obviously printed by some publishing company, I would have thought my mom made up this tradition.
Just a few Sunday ago, fourteen Pullen families gathered in Finlator Hall to make Advent wreaths to use at home during the upcoming Advent season. None of the families had tried this tradition at home before, and only two of the adults in the group (myself being one of them) had a family tradition of lighting candles during Advent. However, everyone was very excited to make their wreaths and try this tradition at home during the holiday season.
Tonight, my family will light the first purple candle on our Advent wreath. As we begin this ritual that will guide us through the season of Advent, I will remember sitting around the dinner table with my parents and sisters lighting candles and waiting in wondrous expectation.
During the season of Advent, daily meditations from members of the Pullen community are being posted online. Subscribe by email at www.pullen.org/category/meditation.