Last week we enjoyed that most precious of Advent preparation events, the preschool Christmas program. 4-year-old Spartacus was thrilled to play Joseph. It was everything a children’s Christmas program should be: adorable, disorganized in spite of all the preparation, technical difficulties, and children waving and picking their noses.
During “This Little Light of Mine,” Joseph disappeared briefly, having misplaced his star prop somewhere under his chair. When he resurfaced, his fabric hat was askew and he kept tossing his head to get it out of his eyes. I feared he would give himself whiplash.
During “Go Tell it On the Mountain,” he used a wrapped box of [presumably] frankincense as a drum.
At the end, the Angel Gabriel leaned over and gave Mary a kiss on the cheek, and Joseph did nothing.
It was awesome.
Spartacus has been SO excited for Christmas. This year, for the first time, we bought a live Christmas tree. He and Daddy went to my parents’ house to raid their attic for a live tree stand, and he “held the ladder” in the garage for Daddy to help.
Our neighborhood association sells Christmas trees, so we borrowed a radio flyer and set out. Spartacus picked out our tree, and watched as they cut the end off before we carted it home on the wagon. He helped Daddy put it up, and waited patiently until it came time for “his job”: putting on the star.
My mom told me later how very excited he was to tell her about his whole weekend: helping Daddy get the tree stand, sitting in the wagon with his sister, picking out the tree, hanging the lights, and helping Daddy get the ornament boxes from the basement.
Time > Stuff
His enthusiasm for these memories is a nice reminder of how much more important TIME is to our children than any stuff we give them.
We have been making a conscious effort in our house to cut back on the amount of TV we all watch. We have succumbed to reality and ditched our formal dining room to create a playroom for them to have more room to create. Just recently, Spartacus has become interested in turning his Lincoln Logs into houses (with little pigs in them that he can blow over) instead of swords. They go to bed by 8; we have precious little time together at the end of each day. Why waste it?
While we want to foster independence in our children, we also have to remind ourselves to say “yes” more times than not when Little Miss brings us a book to read or Spartacus asks us to have a snowball fight.
While Christmas gifts always somehow get out of hand, Hubster and I have tried NOT to buy ever cool thing we can think of for our kids. Instead, we are wrapping a box of candy canes and Batman tattoos for Spartacus. Candy canes are his FAVORITE – such a strange child – and he had picked out the tattoos out at the party store for his school birthday party, and he hasn’t stopped talking about them.
Little Miss will be getting a bag of Kit Kat bars (they are her favorite) and a baby stroller for her baby doll. And it will be a great Christmas.
Advent is about waiting
For kids, Christmas can never come soon enough. You know you’ve reached adulthood when it seems like it is ALWAYS Christmas and you’re never ready.
The liturgical Advent season is the weeks from the end of the church year (usually recognized around Thanksgiving) until Christmas day. The actual Christmas season is the twelve days AFTER December 25, until Epiphany on January 6.
Since March, I have been following a Bible reading plan that has me reading one book at a time. By luck of bad timing, this has stuck me with Job and Jeremiah leading up to Christmas.
For the Biblically illiterate among you, these are not uplifting books. Job loses everything and accuses God of hating him. Jeremiah is forced to preach doom and destruction to Judah for failing to follow God’s directions for, like, hundreds of years. The books seem to go on FOREVER and very little warmth emanates from them (if you don’t count the fire of the enemies raining down the heads of your children – which I don’t).
Jeremiah berates his listeners with their sins. They are terrible people who deserve death. When will I get to read happy things before bed? When do I get to read hopeful things?
The birth of Christ means nothing without the understanding that we are all sinners in need of a savior. Advent is about quiet reflection on our need for salvation, and our inability to procure it for ourselves.
In exile, the people of Judah and Israel longed to be rescued and reunited with God. They pray, “O come, o come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel.”
In Christ we have that reunion. Salvation unto us has come. That is the “good news of great joy” the angels bring to the shepherds, and to us.
Spartacus has been watching A Charlie Brown Christmas on loop. He knows “Hark the Herald” by heart from that, and asks to sing that before bed. He can repeat Luke 2 along with Linus on stage. As excited he is to possibly get a skateboard from Santa, he will zealously tell you that Christmas isn’t about presents: it’s about Jesus.
And what Jesus does for us.
Merry Christmas. 🙂
[Yes, I know I have two children – and *psych* one more on his/her way in JUNE!! – but this post is all about my little boy growing up way too fast!]