My family and I have been engaging in our ‘Advent calendar wreath’ activity for just over a week. For those of you who haven’t read the post (entitled The Advent Calendar Wreath) this consists of twenty-four suggested activities for all the family to share , which are written on numbered pieces of folded coloured paper and suspended from an evergreen wreath. One piece of paper is removed from the wreath each day. I am now happy to report that the concept is working very well!
Each evening after we have eaten our meal, we sit drinking our coffee, following whatever the day’s suggestion might be. So far, we have discussed what we most like about Christmas, played our favourite Christmas carols, told seasonal jokes, and so on. However, yesterday evening was the best so far.
Earlier in the week, my husband (who loves going for walks) had opened the Advent wreath command to organise a torch-lit walk – in other words, a walk after dark. Unfortunately, storm Barra was currently raging across the countryside and walking anywhere outside was definitely unpleasant not to mention dangerous. With the weather finally calming down, the rain reduced to a slight drizzle and the gales abated to blustery wind, we decided to fulfil the challenge.
Suitably kitted out in our warmest coats (which for me is a massive red duffle coat with thick, cosy hood) and a plethora of scarves, hats, gloves and boots, we set forth with our two bemused dogs in tow.
It was a very dark night indeed, but we planned on doing a full circuit of the village which is largely illuminated by street lamps, except for one stretch of old lane further up the hill where the the full force of the gusts buffeted us mercilessly before we plunged down an even narrower, darker lane, taking us past the old bakery and back onto the bottom road.
Our objective was to seek out as many Christmas lights as we could and in that cold, black night, the sight of gaily lit trees and cosily illuminated house windows was welcome indeed. Eaves and roof were edged in ice blue or frosty silver; fence tops were decorated with peeping Santas and jolly snowmen; front doors sported wreaths and porches were festooned with swags of jewel-coloured pinpricks of light.
We did note with some distress that many of the houses were in darkness which reflects the sad fact that nearly half of the dwellings in our village are now holiday homes and stand empty for a good portion of the year.
Once safely back indoors, we divested ourselves of our thick outer layers. I made hot chocolate to drink and as we sat around the toasty warm Aga in the candlelight from our German wooden decorations and soft glow of fairy lights, my son fulfilled his Advent wreath challenge for that evening, which was to tell a Christmas story.
He had searched on the internet for some time until he found one which he felt conveyed a compatible message. It was about how the White Envelope Project came into being. A woman bought and donated to a poor inner city church some sports equipment to be used by underprivileged children – and she did this in her husband’s name. She presented these charitable actions to her spouse in the form of a note in a little white envelope which she hung among the branches of their Christmas Tree and which was opened on Christmas morning along with the rest of the presents. Her husband, who adored children, was utterly delighted, and it became an annual event which the whole family eagerly anticipated.
Some years later, the first Christmas after the man had passed away, the children – now grown to young adulthood – all did something similar in their father’s memory – and so the charity was born and grew.
We all felt heartened, warmed and inspired by such a lovely account and my son was obviously well pleased that he had found a little story which so richly illustrated one aspect of the true meaning of Christmas.
This evening, my husband has been tasked with organising a family game, and so our own simple story of seasonal activities and resulting togetherness continues…