"Can you go down to the storage closet and find the Advent wreath? And I think some candles are in the sideboard drawer."
10 minutes later.
"Are the candles in here? These ones? What color should they be?"
"Purple and pink. Three purple and one pink. I've only been Catholic for six years. You've been Catholic for your whole life. Why do I know these things and you don't?"
"Because it never mattered."
"Oh. Could you also find the nativity set?"
"Hey, what's that? Can I play with that?"
"After you finish your dinner."
Advent to us is a good time to teach. It is a good time to find quiet. It is a good time to seek peace. It is a wonderful time to start family traditions. It is a great time to remember and give thanks. It is a good time to recognize that life isn't about instant gratification. And it is the right time to put Christmas giving and receiving in perspective.
The kids are young. 5 years, 3 years and only 6 months old. I feel like they are little people to shape, form, and help grow into conscious Catholics. How do you tell a 3 year old about waiting. They wait for everything. And they don't usually like waiting for anything. At 3 years old, I don't think delayed gratification makes the end not sweeter.
How do you really help a 5 year old understand that there are others among us who will receive nothing this Christmas but the light of Jesus? How do you show him that the commercialism that surrounds him is just a facade? And how do you address his wonderment that a Saint can actually give us presents and he leaves them under a tree?
How do you keep the 6 month old from army crawling up to the tree and helping himself to those shiny low-hanging ornaments? How do you keep those keen little grabbing fingers away from the pine needles and out of the tinsel? How do you concentrate on his first solid foods when the party/gift-giving/school holiday cheer event calendar is growing wings and taking flight?
This holiday season I hope to bring it all back down to earth. I plan to bring it back to our family. Bring it back to our spirits. Bring it back to the lights on our advent wreath we dine by each Sunday night. Bring it back to family prayer before bed-time and upon waking up in the morning. Bring it back to wonderful stories about the birth of our Saviour. And bring it back to the love Jesus shows us each day.
"Peace be with you."
"And also with your spirit."