December 04, 2007

The Advent Wreath

So many of the blogs that I read on a regular basis are those of my fellow Catholics. Most of the bloggers have an advent wreath. I am sorry to say that I do not have one.

I remember so vividly the advent wreaths my father made. Every year, he would cut fresh greens and fashion them into a circle for the wreath. My mother had a pair of glass candlesticks that each held two candles and these were used every year. The wreath always sat on a silver platter that my parents received as a wedding gift. And every year it was interesting to see if the wreath would hold up for all of advent. Many years, the fourth week found us with an advent wreath made of twigs sitting in a pool of dried out pine needles!

The first night of advent always began with the blessing of the wreath by my father. As the youngest, I usually got to light the candles the first week since it was only a single candle. We went up the line with the middle brother next, my oldest brother third and my mom last. Dad was always the prayer leader. We always lit the candle before dinner and we said grace immediately after the advent prayer. The little booklet that contained the prayers was tattered, but it was used every year (I think it belonged to my grandmother). Over the years, I lit more and more candles as my brothers grew up and moved away.

We continued this ritual until I graduated from high school. I guess when I went away to college it was not as meaningful for my parents to light the wreath for just the two of them. And they never resumed the practice, even after I returned home to live for almost four years after I graduated college.

I never had an advent wreath in my home. I guess with my husband's rather lax Catholic up bringing and the fact that we rarely if ever got the opportunity to sit down to dinner as a family. Even now, with just the two of us at home, we don't often eat together. But next year, I will try to have an advent wreath. Even if I am the only one to light the candles and say the prayers.

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