Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Oh Come All Ye Faithful

Have a blessed Advent!
Advent has always been my favorite times of year.  I love counting down and lighting candles and the sense of anticipation that the Advent season brings.

This year however, I am struck with the particular appropriatness of Advent.  For the first time ever Christmas will be different for me.  I won't have many of the traditions that my parents passed down to our family (driving around our old neighborhoods to look at the lights on Christmas Eve) or the weird traditions that my sister, brother and I made up (Stopping at McDonalds on these Christmas Eve drives?!)  This advent I am not only anticipating the birth of Christ, but I'm also waiting for and anticipating a new kind of Christmas.

One thing I'm thankful for is that many of the traditions I hold most dear I've gotten to participate it this year.  In Mitsuba we decorated a tree and light Advent Candles every day.  The kids each get a turn to light one candle and after we say prayers to put a candle out.  I LOVE seeing the excitement on their faces when they realize that it's their turn!  I also have Christmas parties to attend and a Christmas Eve service to go to.  We are even going Christmas caroling!   Even so, Christmas is going to be different this year.  So far this Advent, as I've taken time to reflect daily, I've realized that while this Christmas won't look like the one's I'm used to, the reason and the meaning and the holiness of this season is EXACTLY the same.  It's like two identical wrapped presents.  The gift is the same even though the packaging might be wildly different.  I am looking foward to experiencing all the Christmas traditions that the Christian community in Japan celebrates this year!  I've been told that they include cake and Kentucky Fried Chicken!

There is one change in my Christmas traditions that has been very welcome.  After I graduated from college, I worked at Borders until last May.  This winter I am incredibly grateful to be away from Retail Christmas.  Yes, their are Christmas decorations in every store and Christmas sales going on, but it's not quite the retail explosion that it is in the U.S.  I really did enjoy working at Borders, but not having to worry about coffee sales, Black Friday hours, setting up displays or requesting Christmas Eve off this year has been more of a relief than I thought I would be.

I wish everyone a blessed Advent and I hope you get a chance to relax and to take a step back from Retail Christmas and focus on the true meaning of the season.

A few weeks ago it became cold in Japan.  That means...
-Heated public toilet seats
-Heated vending machines
-Wool shorts and black tights being in style for girls
-Everyone else in coats and me overheating in my sweatshirt!
-REALLY CUTE winter accessories and Christmas decorations in all the stores

Winter Flowers

1 comment:

  1. Christen, you dropped the McDonald's tradition for...Kentucky Fried Chicken?!

    What a lovely metaphor, that the wrapping is different and the gift the same. So is your family's love that crosses oceans, and will be with you on Christmas as it is every day. And God has His arms around us all. -Dad