So, my blogging during the Christmas season really suffered, but better that than more important things, right?! We had a great and meaningful Christmas, characterized by both great blessing and loss. We incorporated a few new traditions, spent oodles of time with family and friends, and enjoyed some really fun Christmas festivities that Grace Louise wouldn't have enjoyed or appreciated in past years.
We also grieved the imminent loss of Jimmy's Papa Hurst, visiting him at the Sebring Hospice House many times during and after Christmas week. He went to be with Jesus on January 1st of this New Year. I know time does not exist beyond this earth, but I have to imagine it must have been very neat to enter the New Year at the feet of Jesus, with a new mind, a new body and a crown of righteousness to present to the King!
Our newest tradition in helping keep our hearts and minds on Christ Jesus during the Christmas season was adding the celebration of Advent. Advent is a liturgical tradition that hasn't been observed in any church Jimmy and I have ever attended. Our thoughts on including this in our family are very simple... #1 keep in simple #2 no legalism- keep the tradition because you can and want to, not because you have to and #3 let the experience of the tradition draw you closer to Jesus and remember Him more during the Christmas season. I will admit, our first go-round was wobbly. I don't think any of us really understood the meaning of the candles, although at the very end of advent we were given a really helpful handout that gives suggested meaning for each of the candles, scripture readings, stories, etc. Using this new handout will certainly bring more meaning to this tradition next year.
Grace Louise and I made our own version of an advent wreath. Since I had never done this before, I decided to label the candles so we would be reminded of their meanings. Ta-da!
My mom bought Grace Louise and our family The Advent Book as a gift. It is a beautiful hardback book with doors that open for each day (Dec 1-25) telling the story of Christ's birth. Grace Louise really enjoyed this tradition and looked forward to reading the book every evening. Several nights we skipped the book and would catch up later in the week... again, the joy is that we get to enjoy this tradition, not that we have to! I would highly recommend this book for any family looking for another way to point to Jesus during the Christmas season.