“I do it!” my daughter Charlotte points to the lighter. Our floating candles move gently in the water. Green and red garland surrounds the bowl. Our makeshift Advent wreath sits in the center of the table. We’re almost finished with dinner – at least the kids – food is being pushed away and thrown. My food turns cold. We’ve forgotten to light the Advent wreath. But Charlotte will not be deterred. She’s pointing and exclaiming: “I do it,” while her brother Isaac blows towards the candles.
“How many candles do we light tonight?”
“Four!” Charlotte cheers and holds up her fingers.
We all count together.
One. Two. Three. Four.
“We’re getting closer to welcoming baby Jesus.”
“Away, away, away,” we hear in Charlotte’s sing-song voice. She’s bouncing back and forth with what we can only guess is her singing Away in a Manger. A huge smile graces her face. We didn’t teach her the song. We’re assuming she learned it at school. Or perhaps Sunday school. Or maybe it’s been in the recesses of her brain from Christmases past and just waiting to come out.
She’s delighted to share this musical offering with us. We sing the first verse and we’re all smiling now.
By this time, the candles still glowing, Isaac is completely done with dinner and has thrown his plates and cup. Charlotte leaves the table and starts playing with her trains. This really makes Isaac mad. I grab a washcloth and hand it to Charlotte to wipe Isaac’s face. He fusses even more. As I pull him from the chair the dog can’t wait to start cleaning the crumbs and licking his clothes.
I place Isaac on the floor and he’s off. He grabs the train Charlotte put down. Now it’s her turn to scream. “My chooch, my!” I take a few more bites of my cold food.
The candles shine brightly; this is Advent
Moments of joy and song. Moments of tears and sadness. Pride in speaking words on one’s own. Helping one another to tell the story. Waiting expectantly for Jesus to come. Seeing the faces of loved ones glowing in the light