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Monday, November 28, 2011

A Wonderful Beginning to Advent…

There’s nothing like getting the Espinosa Advent Season off on the right foot.

For the first time, in I don’t know how many years (if ever), we actually put up our Christmas tree and outdoor lights (including a new nativity scene that we incorporated) on Thanksgiving weekend! (yes, we've become a one of "those" family)

George and Mary Bailey
Moreover, we did it all on Sunday, the first day of Advent, where after putting up the decorations, we prayed, blessed and lit the wreath (except our 4-year-old son, who refused to join us because he was upset that I interrupted his play), read about St. Patrick (we pick a saint each day and read about their life) and then my two daughters and I watched the 1946 classic, It’s a Wonderful Life.

Unfortunately, my wife was working on a translation (one of her side jobs) which was due the next day and my son went back to playing.

I don’t know about you but every time I watch that last seen of the movie, I still get a knot in my throat.

Maybe, I just identify with George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart's character) since I was the brother that stayed home, although, it was actually my choice.  I didn't want to leave.  I actually liked living in my parents' house! (maybe, that explains a lot)

It also makes me realize that despite any hardships or struggles I may face (which are minuscule compared to the troubles George faces), I am so undeservedly blessed.

In fact, I think even my 7-year-old got caught up in that last scene. As George ran down Bedford Falls’ town square, ecstatically yelling, “Merry Christmas,” to everyone and everything he saw, including the movie theatre, which was showing The Bells of St. Mary (next week's family movie), after realizing his life was wonderful, my daughter actually cheered, “Yea!”

What a great and wonderful (pun intended) way to start our Advent Season.

In any event, after several years of trying, I understand that keeping the tradition of Advent going night after night, where we, as a family, prepare spiritually for the birth of Jesus, is a challenge. While, we have gotten off to good starts before, our enthusiasm eventually fizzles out like a J-Lo relationship.

Let's face it, gathering the family around the dining room table to light the candles (adding one each week), pray and read about a saint (that is our routine) for four weeks, is not that easy, especially, considering that some nights we have to wait for one of our girls to get home from ballet rehearsal, our 4-year-old son, who wants attention in the most inopportune times, the school fair (this upcoming weekend) and the soon-to-come Christmas party season, when my wife and I are not always at home. 

Still, my wife and I feel it is well worth the effort.  It's a tradition that we want to establish for our kids, so that they can pass it on to their families and, as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, I can someday sing, "Tradition!... tradition!" and Sunday night gave me hope. (I'm actually working on the robust physique of Tevye, which is developing quite nicely, thank you very much, although my singing leaves a lot to be desired)

Not to mention, I think the girls are finally both at a right age to understand and partake in the nightly ritual.  In fact, my younger daughter quickly volunteered to read the next night.

I guess, for us, Advent is like working out; you have to start somewhere (which coincidentally, I re-started this week).  The key will be to keep our focus, commitment and endurance, despite the many distractions, so that like George Bailey and his family, we can joyfully say on Christmas Day, "It is a wonderful life."...

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