On years like this one, when Advent comes early, it always feels like we go straight from feasting on turkey and pecan pie to going full-on Christmas. I'm not complaining!
I've always celebrated Advent and loved it. It was an especially big deal to my mom, because she's German and the Germans do Adventszeit right. The thing that first comes to mind for me about Advent is the Adventskranz!
My mom always made ours herself, but you can buy them if you don't have much time or aren't so crafty. It's traditionally a wreath with four candles - one for each Sunday of Advent. One candle stands for hope, one for love, one for joy, and one for peace. You light one candle each Sunday and try to live that virtue even more that day!
So tomorrow, the first Sunday of Advent, is all about honoring hope. People who celebrate (as I plan to again this year, after having the lowest key Christmas ever last year) will light a candle (traditionally purple, thought white, gold, and red are also common) - the Candle of Hope, also known as the Candle of Prophecy.
I like to light the candle and then take some time to sit by the candle and alternate between meditating and thinking about what hope means to me, how I can bring more hope into my life, and how I can spread more hope to others.
To me, hope is one of the most important things we have as humans, right up there with love. Continuing with the spirit of gratitude that we hopefully all felt ourselves filled with on Thursday, it's important to take the time to reflect on how we've been blessed with hope and how we can grow that hope and gift it to others.
After some quiet time, there will be the usual calling of loved ones, baking all sorts of delicious, fragrant holiday treats, and looking for little opportunities to make someone smile, whether that's buying a homeless person a warm lunch, volunteering at a soup kitchen for an hour or two, or giving a stranger a rose.
Have a holly, jolly start to the season!