Countdown To Christmas

December is right around the corner. You know what that means. The tempo of everyday life is about to go into overdrive.

Christmas decorations show up all over Shady Pines from stores to neighborhoods. Radio stations play Christmas carols non stop. And that’s not all.

There are invitations to parties, Christmas cards and greetings to send, school plays to attend. The annual To-Do list keeps getting longer.

Not to mention the ads for toys are everywhere.

It can get overwhelming.

So during this hectic season how can we slow down and consider what’s really important?

One Day At a Time

It seems Edna Sanders has an idea. She’s in the family’s kitchen opening a package. “Look, Harold.  This just arrived.”

Harold pours another cup of coffee and looks over at his wife. “What do you have there ‘hon?”

“Why it’s the Advent Calendar I ordered.”

Harold moves closer. “I didn’t know you’d done that.”

Edna shows the seasonal calendar to him. “Starting the first of December this one highlights important messages each day.”

“Like what?” asks Harold.

Edna shows Harold the back of the calendar. “Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. It says here that that’s what each of the Sundays during Advent represent.”

She keeps reading. “The season of Advent has been seen by Christians around the world as a way to get ready for the coming birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas. That’s why each day on an Avent Calendar is its own special celebration.”

“You also may also see Avent Wreaths. Each candle has a separate meaning.”

“Huh,” says Harold. “Look. The first candle is Hope to symbolize the Prophesy. It’s purple. Peace is second to represent Bethlehem. The third candle, Joy, is pink for the Shepherds and then, Love. That’s for the angels. This is so interesting.”

Edna claps her hands together. “You know what we should do?”

Harold is afraid to ask. “No. What?”

“We should make our own Advent Wreath.”

Boomer and Halley are Confused

Just then, the couple’s two four legged children wander in. Boomerang, the Australian Shepherd dog, laps water from his bowl.

Halley’s Comet, a silever streak of a cat, jumps up on the kitchen table and rubs against Edna’s shoulder.

“Hi girl,” says Edna. Look at my calendar. We’re going to open one little door each day until Christmas.”

Halley glances at Boomer. “Hey, Boom. Isn’t Christmas the day we get presents and I get to play with all that ribbon?”

Boomer plops down on Harold’s feet. “Yeah. I think so. I like to rip up the paper.”

Halley stares at Edna’s face. “I wonder why mom is so happy about this cardboard thing?”

“I dunno,” says Boomer. “It’s not even wrapped.”

Halley drops to the floor and makes a beeline to her comfy window seat. “I sure hope the folks still plan to get me a new squeaky toy.”

Boomer cocks his head. “And I could really use a new bone.”

 Memories and Lessons

Edna gazes out the kitchen’s large double pane window. “You know Harold when I was a little girl my grandmother used to get me an Advent Calendar every year.”

Harold smiles. “I didn’t know that.”

“Grandma Josie wasn’t especially religious. But she wanted me to focus on something or someone other than myself.  She made me calendars with notes to inspire me to give back to others.”

“What a lovely idea,” says Harold

Edna tilts her head. “Each day there was a message like. How can you help someone today? or What does your best friend want for Christmas?”

Harold strokes Boomer’s head. “When I was a kid, I thought Advent Calendars were just something to keep the kids busy. I never thought of them as a way to promote conversation around important issues.”

Edna looks from Halley to Boomer. “I wonder what these two would say if they knew we were going to focus more on Hope, Peace, Joy and Love this Christmas rather than toys?”

Harold chuckles. “Let’s don’t tell them just yet.”

And that’s where we leave the Sanders family on the eve of an ever-so-special season in the small Southern town of Shady Pines.

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