by Charles LaFond
Simplicity in Advent is a real challenge in our society. We are better at glamor than beauty. This image reminds me that God swings the other way.
I watch television with commercials the way a house-cat goes swimming – – that is, infrequently, and with no small amount of annoyance. The media seems to be after me overtime I turn something on. The media confuses glamor and beauty and so, confuse me too.
Recently I was home with the sniffles and found myself watching television, simply so that there would be another voice in the room. Over and over again I saw commercials, remembering that I dislike them. Sweaters, pajamas, cookware, a gizmo that peels vegetables, diamond rings, plastic toys, Christmas decorations (Ok, I admit that I perked up at the decorations …they were sparkly and the music was fun! I was defenseless!)
That moment I made a decision which is now playing out in my life.
I called my sister, the matriarch of our family, and explained that my plan, this year, was to engage in a “simple season.” I asked that my family members please refrain from making any purchases for me this Christmas. I asked that they do something for me – a letter, a decorated card, a dozen home-made cookies. If this year’s gift arrived at Easter (because this next few weeks were busy) that would be fine with me. I simply asked that they take 15 minutes, and do something or make something which I might enjoy, but which will no longer exist on this planet or in my closets in January.
In turn, I explained that I was looking forward to making English Butter Toffee, Toasted Almond Bark with sea salt, spiced walnuts and Sharp Cheddar Cheese Crisps for their Christmas gifts. I explained that I would be making their cards this year and inside the cards would be words from me, and not from a Hallmark employee. I explained that I loved them and was not doing this to save money. If they needed money or a gift card for food I would be happy to send them whatever they needed but, as far as a Christmas Gift was concerned, these were my requests: a call for simple beauty.
So I have made some beautiful gift-boxes and used print blocks to print and then color in Christmas Cards on a Tree of Life theme (I borrowed markers and a stamp from the church). I have blocks of good cheddar cheese, bins of toasted almonds, pounds of butter, bags of walnuts and spices, a bottle of vanilla, dark chocolate and lavender sea salt. This week I will begin making these gifts and I will send them early so that my family and friends can use them when they entertain before and throughout Christmas.
Advent begins this week. For what do you long? I long for a simpler, kinder life. I long to make something which tastes lovely and give it away and for that to be enough. I long for a friend to touch my hand when we talk. I long for a nation less ravenous for things, money and power – and an Episcopal Church like that too.
What do you long for this Christmas and how might your Advent be a real, tangible indication that your actions match your words? Could you make things and send them? Could you avoid malls and internet surfing? Could you simplify this season?
And if you do, might it end up being less glamorous but much more beautiful?