The hustle and bustle of the holidays is decidedly not my thing. On the contrary, Advent is right up my alley! Advent is celebrated during the four weeks leading up to Christmas. It is a period of prayer, waiting and preparation. As a Christian, I want to use this time to slow down and celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. Advent is a whole season in and of itself and it is worth it to slow down. On the first Sunday of Advent I hope to put out our wreath, hang the stockings in preparation for St. Nicholas Day (see below) and break out my snail mail supplies!
This year I am planning on sending some Advent awesomeness through the mail. As a postal twist on an Advent Calendar I am going to mail some Advent letters, not a traditional newsy Christmas letter but a thoughtful letter specially written for a few people that are placed on my heart during my time of preparation. While writing these letters I hope to slow down and take time to express my love and care for my recipients. I don't want to increase the pressure or add stress to my life so I think one letter for each week of Advent would be perfect. (More if I can manage it!)
I am also planning on celebrating St. Nicholas Day. When the Murphy Bros. were little we would celebrate the true story of Santa Claus that begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. He obeyed Jesus' teaching and sold all that he had and gave his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and became known for his generosity to those in need and his love for children. Through the centuries many stories and legends have been told of St. Nicholas' life and deeds. One story tells of a poor man with three daughters. This poor man's daughters had no dowries and were therefore destined to be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home, thus providing the needed dowries. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold. That is why three gold balls, sometimes represented as oranges, are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas. St Nicholas Day is celebrated on December 6th. I'm planning on sending a little St. Nicholas snailmail to the Murphy Bros away at college. I think I'll include a cute St. Nick oragami guy I've been practicing and some "gold" for my poor college students. (And maybe some oranges so they'll get a little fresh fruit in their diet!!)
Whatever your traditions are during this holiday time of year, I hope you will include a little snailmail! It's a great way to spread joy, glad tidings and...magic!