It’s nearly December, which means that in our house it’s time to get out the snowman, fill him with chocolates and count off the days until Christmas Day. Jane and the girls made him one afternoon many years ago out of a plastic bottle, cornflakes box and cotton wool and love. Although he’s a little tatty around the edges these days (a bit like me really) he still appears every year. Advent really wouldn’t be the same without him.
But this tradition isn’t just about eating chocolate. There’s an advent calendar called The Story of Christmas(*) which accompanies the appearance of the snowman, with one book from it being read each day. Unfortunately, neither of the girls will be with us this year until very close to Christmas Day, so reading the books together as we used to isn’t really practical any more. Which is a shame, as they’re rather good. One of my favourites has to be the 7th little book: “Setting Off”.
Joseph brought their donkey to the door. There he harnessed the animal and filled its saddlebags with food and clothing for the journey. He packed a sack of fodder for the donkey, too.
I’m glad the donkey gets a mention and that he’s going to be looked after on the journey. I guess that today Joseph would be bringing the car around to the door and making sure it had enough fuel in it to get to Bethlehem. As well as the miraculous, the advent story is about ordinary people and the mundane details of life. For me one of the most striking aspects is how people without any apparent power can make a real difference – by being faithful to their beliefs and acting in accordance with them.
I’m hoping that this advent, I can go on a journey with Mary, Joseph and the donkey and find fresh hope in mine.
(*) For anyone interested, the UK edition of this advent calendar was produced by Red House Books in 1995 and sadly seems to be no longer available from their website.