You wouldn’t know it from the Baptist church I attend, but today is the first Sunday of Advent. As a child, I thought of Advent as a time to light Advent candles, sing Christmas carols, make paper chains and popcorn chains for the tree, and put up the Nativity scenes. It was a time of preparation, but mostly doing fun things in preparation for more fun things. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned about Advent being a time of spiritual preparation.
Past years I have tried to do a family Advent devotional using an Advent wreath I had made (for our first Christmas together, twenty years ago). As the boys get older (and less excited by the simple act of lighting candles and blowing them out) and my husband’s work schedule has made family get-togethers infrequent, we’ve gotten away from it. This year I decided to try something different.
Al loves to play games, and he is always wanting a new game to play. (Today we made a “Christmasland” game, modeled after Candyland, with red and green squares, plus some special squares showing items such as ornaments, a nutcracker, a candle, etc.) So I talked about Advent being a time of getting ready, and how we get ready in different ways for things. He gets ready for school by getting dressed and eating breakfast, and he gets ready for a test by studying. If we go on a trip, we get ready by packing.
So if you were going on a trip somewhere for Christmas, what would you put in your suitcase to make sure that you had a wonderful Christmas?
I said I would pack
- a camera, to take pictures of people and the wonderful times we would have
- a Bible, so we could read the Christmas story
- a songbook of Christmas carols
- a warm jacket, hat, and mittens so we could go Christmas caroling
Al said we would need to take gifts to give to each other and to other people, and we would want to be sure we had food to eat (he suggested apples and bread).
Note that these need to be items that can actually be put in a suitcase. It might be handy to be able to pack sufficient patience to deal with the people and situations that often cause stress during the holidays, but patience isn’t pack-able – you only get it as you use it. Besides, I’ll deal with character traits later in Advent.
So what would you pack?