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Advent Thoughts & A Christmas Tradition

White Christmas tree at night in our living room, all lit up with colorful ornaments www.pencilshavingsstudio.com

We’ve been studying advent in church for the past few weeks, which, frankly, was a new thing to this Southern Baptist-raised girl when we first started attending our nondenominational church. Growing up, advent was little more than the pop-open calendar of tiny pieces of chocolate. So I’m learning more and more about what it really means. It’s a season of preparation, anticipation — celebration of the hope that is to come. And we all really need hope, don’t we?

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This week at church, we talked about Mary and her bravery. I’m particularly weepy at Christmas ever since being extremely pregnant with Archer at this time of year. There wasn’t a Sunday at church that I didn’t boo-hoo through the worship while clutching my enormous belly. And while the belly is (mostly – ahem) gone and the no-longer-a-baby is now living life on the outside, I’m still a weepy mess at Christmas because I remember so well all the anticipation, exhaustion, and excitement of What Was To Come. Internet, if I’m being honest sometimes I wish the Bible was written by women because there’d be a lot more detail and emotion. I want to know all the nitty gritty details: did Mary have a midwife or did Joseph have to help her deliver? Did she really ride on that donkey? Did people treat her funny for being an unwed mother? What was her birth story?

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So far this year we’ve attended Archer’s Mother’s Day Out Christmas program (he rang bells with the other babies OMG) and a handful of other parties but the best was Saturday night where we attended a concert in a friend’s beautiful home. Soulful and striking, we sat and let the words swirl around us, songs we’ve heard a thousand times. Everywhere there are reminders that 2016 has been terrible for many people. The world is aching with heaviness, sadness, anxiety. We need A Thrill of Hope for the Weary World to Rejoice In.

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The one tradition we’ve maintained at Christmas since Jude was teeny tiny is a visit to North Pole City. I’ve written before about our experiences there, and our love for their Santa Claus (blow past the awful recounting of the stomach flu in this post and get to the good part where Jude sings to Santa – I STILL sob when I think about it) and this year Archer is the perfect age for experiencing the magic that is North Pole City. But! Now they only accept online reservations to see Santa (which is brilliant), so I was kind of limited on what appointments were left. So I thought it would be fun to check Jude out of school just a bit early.

Arch and I  sat in the office while they called Jude downstairs and when he came in, he had this look on his face like, “What’s the deal?” I’d given his teacher a heads-up that I would be doing an advent surprise with him, but he knew nothing otherwise.

“Jude,” I said apologetically, “you’ve got a dentist appointment.”

“WHAT?! NOOOOOO!”

And then I couldn’t hold it together and started laughing. “No,” I whispered in his ear. “We’re going to see SANTA!”

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It truly is my most favorite thing we do all season.

And in true toddler form, Archer was especially enthralled with (sigh) the shopping carts.advent-2016-6

And also his brother, of course. We picked out our Christmas ornament for the year and waited to see Santa.advent-2016-4

I love this photo. I love that they’re in school clothes with crazy hair and I hope I always remember the sweetness and joy of these days.  These are the best years of our life right now. I am convinced of it.

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