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Monday, December 23, 2013

Advent Journey Day 23

Christmas eve is tomorrow.  Wow.  All 4 of the Sunday Advent candles are now lit.  My calendar candle has almost burned to the stem.  I'm listening to Christmas music, enjoying the scent of my cranberry frost candle, and making a list and checking it twice.  Not to see who has been naughty or nice but to make sure I don't forget anything over the next two days!  I'll be wrapping presents, baking cookies, making toffee, finalizing preparations for our Christmas Eve service, and making sure all of the food is in place for the Open House on Wednesday.  It's a beautiful day here, so we'll try to walk Tanner while it is still light outside, which means we need to get a move on since it's already 11.00 a.m. and by 2.50 p.m. today we'll be into the evening!  

Date: 23 Dec 2013
Sunrise: 08:44
Sunset: 14:49
Length of today: 6h 05m 01s

Well, at least today is 12 seconds longer than Saturday was!  Happy to be heading out of the darkness!I think we'll go out for Indian food tonight as we have a nice Groupon and it allows us to not have leftovers to put in our fridge since it is already quite full with party food!  I'm thankful that I only have to make a trip to the corner grocery store and not do any real shopping today.  But enough about me.  What are you going to do today?  
We are lucky.  Tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday are bonafide holidays here in Sweden so many people also took today to scurry around and finish getting ready for tomorrow.  Christmas Eve is THE day that Swedes celebrate Christmas.  Many will start by watching Donald Duck cartoons at 3.00 p.m. and from there eat the traditional Jul Bord with ham, meatballs, several kinds of herring, cheeses, salads, etc. Then Tomte (their version of Santa Claus) comes and they open their gifts that evening.  Some will go to midnight mass at a nearby church.  Christmas day is just for sleeping in and relaxing.  Many will go the movies on Dec. 26.  
Internationals celebrate in so many different ways that we actually have our service at 4.00 p.m. on Christmas Eve.  We will have a nice cookie and coffee and tea fika afterwards and then head on our ways to celebrate in whatever different ways we choose.  
Whatever the next couple of days look like for you and yours, I hope you will pause to give thanks for the bounty you enjoy.  The fact that you can read this blog means you have some form of Internet connection and that in and of itself is a real privilege and gift.  If hardship is part of your journey this year, I pray you will seek peace in the Christ-child and find comfort in the reality that God chose to come near to us and dwell among us so that we might know a Savior who truly understands our every need and emotion.  Don't let these Christmas days blur into busyness.  Savor your traditions.  Love on your family.  Miss those who aren't with you, kiss those who are with you, and celebrate the child, the Christ-Child, who was born in Bethlehem to lead us all home to safety and light.  
I hope and pray that by being on an advent journey you feel better prepared to enjoy the Christ event.  Advent is now over, but in case you need a little reminder of what it has been all about, check out this video.  I love the line, "Advent is the expectant waiting, hopeful anticipation & cheerful preparation of God breaking into our lives."  It ends with "If you are sick of Christmas by December 25, you haven't done Advent correctly!"
And so my dear friends, I hope that all of the preparations that have been occupying your time have readied you to dig in and enjoy the joy that is ours through Christ our Lord.