It's the first day of December and I can feel Christmas. Two nights ago, we lit the first candle on our Advent Wreath. We started this family tradition when my daughter turned three and now, her brother is a part of it.
Of course, it's less solemn than I would normally like it to be. The kids, thrilled about lighting and blowing candles, ask why we can't light up the four candles all at once or why we can't light the pink candle first. Some negotiations are done as to who will light and who will blow. My son thankfully agrees to blow, except that he attempts to do this pfft pfft thing while prayers are going on. But we proceed merrily nonetheless.
On the first night, we start with my husband blessing the wreath with holy water. I think about the old Holy Family that used to sit at the center of the wreath. Someone had accidentally chopped off St. Joseph's head when he knocked down our little altar months ago and I hadn't been able to send it to my dad to fix. No matter. While cramming to prepare the wreath last Saturday, I found an unopened box of ... a Holy Family with wings of an angel wrapped around it. I had forgotten that I bought this at an after-Christmas sale last year. So now we have a sort-of-new wreath, that is breathtaking in its simplicity. I have the foresight to stick the image onto the center with double-sided tape this time. I pray the angel will protect it from another untoward incident.
Then my daughter, half-complaining why she can't use matches, lights the first candle using a longer one that had been previously lit. The mood changes as everyone gasps at the sight of the small flame that makes the entire room glow. My son immediately moves closer, ready to blow. I quickly hand over the bigger candle and he is satisfied. But not for long.
So my husband and I try to recite the grown-up prayer faster than usual. And my son pays attention for awhile as his sister proceeds to read- - -
All nations are waiting for You...
People in America, people in Canada,
as far as China and here in Manila, are waiting for You ...
Come Jesus come.
For a few seconds, everyone is quiet. I feel like a child again. Then I hear voices, imperfect and out-of-tune, not knowing all the words, but still singing at their mightiest. O come, O come Emmanuel...