Today is the first day of the Advent season. My son Jim and his family started a tradition for me by giving me a beautiful wooden train with advent doors built right in. They present the train during Thanksgiving weekend and I set it up with my Christmas decorations. Then starting on December 1st I open the little compartments. Last year, along with a tiny hand-written scroll by family members I got a piece of Dove chocolate. This year, it appears it will be M&Ms. I store the train with my Christmas decorations and return it to them in November of the following year.
I love the whole holiday season and I hope people describing me would say 'she knows how to keep Christmas well.' Several years ago I devoted time and study to the Nativity, the story of Jesus' birth and it was a wonderful and rewarding experience. I started that because of what Mrs. Eddy says in Miscellaneous Writings: "It is most fitting that Christian Scientists memorize the nativity of Jesus." I made a list of the things I considered important about the nativity story; the angels, the shepherds, the Magi and their gifts, the star, Bethlehem, etc. I hope that in the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations everyone finds quiet moments to think about those things and feel connected with what we are really celebrating.
It fits right in with this week's Bible Lesson on God as the only Cause and Creator and the Goldent Text inviting us to 'come' and 'see'. Come to Christmas with the delight of a child and see the wonder of the season. Agree with Scrooge's nephew that this is the one time in the year when all hearts are open to the welfare of others. If you don't own a copy of Dicken's A Christmas Carol...go right out and buy one. It divides into sections as Scrooge is introduced and then has his encounters with the Spirits. Make the commitment to set aside time to read it without any other distractions. Fix a cup of hot chocolate to sip as you read. You will be doubly warmed. Incidently, it makes a wonderful read aloud book. One year we made a project out of it and recorded it as a family using a radio script complete with our own sound effects. What a hoot. There are several DVD versions of the story as well. I especially like the one with Patrick Stewart as Scrooge and the Albert Finney musical version. And I must watch the Muppet's Christmas Carol several times with Michael Caine. He may be my favorite Scrooge.
So as we move into December there are two reading assignments for you. Read the nativity as given in the Bible. Use several translations. Read A Christmas Carol, the ultimate story of a life redeemed. Savor both stories.
Hear the angels sing.