Today is the first Sunday in Advent which in our household heralds the beginning of the Christmas season. We’ve always ‘done’ Advent in a big way, although more so when the children were little. We had a pile of Christmas books, an Advent ring, an Advent candle and a nativity set. Each Sunday evening we would light candles depending on how many Sundays to Christmas, read a story, add figures to the nativity set and sing some carols round the piano.
We did have one Christmas when Helen was about three or four which has gone down in family history! I was telling the nativity story to them using a picture book, I asked what the baby was called, “Jesus” answered James, to which Helen retorted “But I want to call it Rachel!” and she insisted on calling him Rachel for the rest of Christmas!
An Advent ring is central to our tradition, I don’t think many people do them now, it has four candles, one is lit on the first Sunday, two on the second Sunday and so on. If anyone is near York Minster they have an amazing one suspended from the ceiling, it’s probably about 20 feet across. Apparently it’s the biggest in England!
Last year I spotted a silver candelabra on Otley market, at £10 it was a bargain I couldn’t leave behind. It’s made a lovely stand for my Advent ring. I’ve got an oasis ring which I carved four notches out of so it will sit easily on the arms.
Today the weather has been awful, driving rain and hail, but I managed to choose a 5 minute lull to nip onto the back lane, wade through the puddles to get some holly and ivy, I like to get a variety of foliage so from our garden I picked some eucalyptus, cupressus, osmanthus, which looks like holly but is on nice short stems, a lovely red hebe and some eunonymous, so I had a good variety of foliage. I’ve learnt from experience which shrubs don’t work, choisya is a lovely colour but smells like catpee, ceanothus and viburnham don’t last long enough. By Christmas I usually have to do a little bit of titivating with ones that haven’t made it.
My version of flower arranging is to keep going until I can’t see the oasis any more, then add a few more! I like to have some ivy trailing down, though I don’t find it hangs very well, this time I’ve attached it from the inside of the ring which seems to have worked ok. Last year I bought a short set of lights, typically I couldn’t find them today so I’ve used a 40 set and I think there’s a few too many, so hopefully the others will turn up once I get more Christmas stuff out. I really enjoyed the lights last year as I could switch them on every day.
Our first candle was lit today so it’s beginning to look a bit like Christmas!