With advent, as with so many things, there is a fine balance to keep in play. There is so much focus on “the big day” that the days leading up to it can easily fall victim to merely planning for the future. A dangerous practice, as anticipating the future tends us to swing too much energy toward an unknown that is over as soon as it has begun.
Once the future has begun, it is no longer the future, but the present, and without practice we might not even recognize it until it is over and then find ourselves looking forward to the next thing: be it New Years, Birthdays, or simply going back to work.
How many times has a relaxing Sunday been marred by the anticipation that the next day is Monday and that will mean going back to work? Don’t deprive yourself of the present in anticipation of the future.
How? Enjoy the Present with Presents! Of course.
A tradition that I’ve enjoyed since I was a kid is that of advent calendars. Each day, starting today December 1st, is acknowledged with a small surprise or gift of some kind. Sometimes it is a lovely wintertime picture, a sweet candy treat or a small toy.
The practice of advent calendars teaches small children their numbers and helps them to visualize how many days there are left until Christmas. In addition, advent calendars give parents an easy answer to the often asked question: “Is it Christmas now?”
Some good ideas for making your own advent calendars can be found here. This year we are doing the 24 origami boxes made to look like little presents. Last year I took all of my preschoolers random mismatched socks and made them into stockings. What advent calendar ideas have you enjoyed doing?
Breaking it Down Even More
As I’m writing this, I’m reminded by an hour by hour we remain present during this season of anticipation. We have a wintertime clock (that we received as a present a couple years ago) that plays a different Christmas carol each hour, on the hour.
There are candy canes and other sweet treats stashed in plain view all around the house this month, as well.
While my preschooler, like many children, spends lots of time longingly examining the tree and wondering what joys this magical season will bring, with advent, we are reminded that it is each day and every moment that holds the real gift of the present.