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Monday, November 28, 2016

Advent Beginnings

Yesterday was the first Sunday in Advent, a very significant day in Sweden and many church traditions worldwide have special celebrations to commemorate the day. In Sweden of course, the candle lighting associated with Advent was a welcome tradition due to the lengthy darkness that envelopes the day at this of year. Here in (mostly) sunny California, we are not craving warmth and light in quite the same way but I still can't get away from marking the weeks leading to Christmas with my own 4 advent candles. 
Still happy to count the Sundays and remember that the light shines in the darkness even where it's sunny.
Traditional Christmas decorations have been popping up around town and we attended a Lutheran Church yesterday where the Advent focus came into view. We sang O Come O Come Emmanuel, lit the first candle, and sang Joy to the World. So I was motivated to listen to Christmas music today and get decorating.
I have not seen my Christmas decorations since December of 2014. When we packed everything up after the holidays, the boxes were set aside to go straight into the shipment from Sweden. Given that we were unsure of how long we were going to be in London, we didn't pack any Christmas decorations. So today when we dragged the boxes out of the garage, it really was like Christmas morning as I opened up and unwrapped treasure after treasure. I had forgotten about certain things and others evoked strong, deep, nostalgic emotions. It was quite fun trying to figure out how to decorate our California home with traditional decorations! 
We've been having some chilly, blustery weather out here...45-60F/8-15C...I know, I'm wimpy now, so Doug even got the fireplace going tonight. It is super cozy and allows us to keep the heat off! 

I grew up in southern California so the backdrop of sunshine and palms mixed with Christmas isn't totally foreign to me. It is however Doug's first go 'round with a warm weather Christmas. It's really not all that hard to take, although admittedly today whilst decorating, I did put on a snowy slideshow from Christmases in Sweden. I will miss the Christmas markets, the coziness of candlelight in every window, the lovely decor all over the city, the warmth of an afternoon coffee and delicious treat and celebrated traditions that we enjoyed with our church in Sweden. But I am also excited to be in our own home, to establish some new traditions, to go to parades and light displays here in the desert, to play December golf. 
Truth be told, we're now closer in climate to Bethlehem than the snowy Burl and Ives Christmas scenes so that's kind of interesting. And those in the southern hemisphere have always celebrated Christmas in the dead of summer. Because let's face matter our circumstances in life, preparing for the incarnation has little to do with what's going on on the outside and has everything to do with what's going on in our insides. May your journey be filled with new experiences, wonder in small things, hope, joy, peace and love.