Waitwaitwait. Isn't Advent that thing where you get a calendar that has little doors and you open one every day and get a chocolate or a little bottle of wine or an ornament or mascara?
Dale: Can you imagine a Cheech and Chong Advent calendar?
Me: Really, Dale?
Let's try this again.
You know how you'll start buying things for the holidays and you'll see someone in the candle aisle muttering and fussing because they can't find pink, purple, and white tapers? You might be thinking they are going for a different color scheme for Thanksgiving or Christmas. If you're really clueless, you might assume they're trying to fill up their menorah. Nope. Those people waited too long to buy their Advent candles and will either have to pay quite a bit more for a set from the cathedral store, settle for a different set of colors or votives, or suck it up and get them from Amazon.
Advent is, as I have already written, the start of the new year on the Christian liturgical calendar. It is the first in a series of four Sundays when we panic because we haven't made our Christmas cards and... okay give me a minute to breathe. Advent is when we celebrate the birth of the Christ Child and reflect on how to bring the example of His life into our day to day living.
A typical Advent wreath has greenery and four or five candles, depending on which tradition you follow. (Mom is Methodist, so I added one in the middle. I'll have to ask my priest because I am not sure why we use four. Maybe one got lost when we set fire to Guy Fawkes.)
Edit: I just got a call from a fellow former member of the Student Interfaith Council at one of my alma maters. She said, "Episcopalians use five candles. Even I know that, you yutz!" She was the president of our sister religious house, the Jewish Student Union.
What I described is what happens when you don't live in a state experiencing uncontrolled spread during a pandemic. Here is what our Advent setup looked like earlier tonight:
"What about emergency candles?" I asked.
"We're saving those for emergencies," she said. "We scrounged around and found four perfectly good candles we'll be using this season. Given that one of the boys hates wine and we have been using Goldfish crackers for at-home Eucharist, I think we'll survive an untraditional Advent setting."
When she told me about it, she immediately added she would not send a picture. I tried. I really did, but she's not budging. As I type this, her family is gathering around Batman, Spider-Man, the number three, and a Scottie wearing a Santa hat.
Happy New Year!