Advent: Traditions and the Tree

We don’t have many traditions in the house. Around this time of the year though since we moved to Easton we go to something called “Christkindlmarkt” in the Christmas City (Bethlehem). Our first visit there back in 2005 we were mildly disappointed – I think we just expected something different…and it felt strange and not right to have to pay to go in to buy crafts from vendors, as well as pay for lunch. But, we soon embraced it as a part of a tradition that we do yearly, and now it feels like Advent wouldn’t be quite the same without it. They have a ton of food and of course some German fare – They’ve got some nice brats, German potato salad, and then pierogies – which are my favorite – that we get for lunch, and I like seeing all the pottery, and wood crafts, etc. It’s a way to get into the spirit of the season being able to also walk around the city and the cute Main Street, and visit other special spots like the Moravian Book Store, and Donegal’s (an Irish store). There’s such great energy!

So, each year both A- and I choose an ornament from Christkindlmarkt to put on the tree.

I chose the angel with the teddy bear – to me, it symbolizes the wonderful, terrifying, mysterious news of Gabriel to Mary, oh those heralds of news, you never know which way they will point you when they show up…and the little bear is the reminder of the incarnation, when God came into the world first as a baby…it seemed fitting for me this season. The incarnation is hitting me hard this year…if I would sit and think too deeply about it I think I would maybe fall too pieces at the joy and wonder of it. Maybe it’s the pregnancy hormones for me. For Andy – he chose the animals because it reminds him of the peaceable kingdom. It’s totally fitting for him because 1) he insanely loves animals and 2) the theme of peace is one that is close to his heart at a number of levels.

This is a lovely season, and while I’m thankful for the anchoring effect of these traditions, I’m acutely aware of the chaos that still exists around us, the heaviness of the darkness, and the need for God’s light…from hearing about a marriage of a young couple that is falling apart to finding out someone’s life is balancing precariously between life and death and the family’s worry to knowing about the recent loss of a grandmother to learning of a friend’s mother’s diagnosis of lung cancer, I’m feeling the longing and desperation for that light to shine ever more brightly…to feel God burst into this reality.

Fitting to come across Ann Weem’s  “Godburst,”

When the Holy Child is born into our hearts
there is a rain of stars
a rushing of angels
a blaze of candles
this God burst into our lives.

Love is running through the streets.

O come, O come Emmanuel…burst into our hearts…with a reality that changes everything…