Growing up, I kind of missed the whole Advent boat. I didn't learn much about it at church and I didn't learn much about it at home. Advent was, in my eyes, church lingo for 'the Christmas season.' In recent conversations, I've learned that a lot of churches fail when it comes to teaching about Advent. If you missed that one Sunday school lesson or that Bible study night, you're in the dark. We light these random candles up by the communion table (not the altar, as so many people call it) or on the chancel (maybe it's a pulpit to you) and read some stuff and then get on with the service.
In the past couple of years, my attention has been turned to Advent and learning what it's all about. I get the hope/peace/joy/love thing now, the quietly preparing our hearts for the arrival of the Savior thing. Advent has added a whole new dimension to my experience of Christmas.
For a couple of years now, I've wanted to make an Advent wreath. As an Advent 'novice,' I thought there was a specific way to make a wreath...in other words, a right way or a wrong way. I thought it needed to be round. I thought there had to be greenery. I thought you had to have the right colored candles or else your Advent wreath wasn't really an Advent wreath. I just didn't know any better. So I bought a foam ring, but the process stopped there. Because I don't know how to build an advent wreath from a foam circle. As Advent arrived this year, I sighed and thought about how maybe by next year I will have figured it out.
And then I read this post by Rachel from Small Notebook. And I realized that an Advent wreath is really just 5 candles, with one taller or bigger or otherwise distinguished from the rest. There aren't really rules to follow. There isn't a wrong way to celebrate Advent.
It's amazing how bound up we can be without even realizing it. There is so much freedom to be had when we lose the fear of doing something incorrectly. Flylady has so much to say on this very topic (and for those of you who are struggling with feeling overwhelmed, I encourage you to check out Flylady. She has changed my life, for the better).
I went to my candle/vase shelf in my linen closet (I have a linen closet now!!) and pulled out five candle holders - four little red ones I'd just picked up from Pier 1 on the clearance shelf as a whim, and a red-and-gold cut glass one my mom gave me a few years ago. Up they went on the mantle.
And now we have an Advent wreath.