4 December 2005
Second Sunday of Advent
On the second Sunday of Advent we give thanks for the plant kingdom. Two candles are lit, the children each choose a pretty seedpod, leaf or flower to place on the advent table, and we say the verse ...
The second light of advent,
It is the light of plants.
Plants reach up to the sun
And in the breezes dance.
Verse for the first Sunday of Advent here.
PS. Last week I said we put the candles on the advent table, but we ended up putting them on the mantlepiece this year. The stable arrived courtesy of the Advent Fairy this week, and it takes up far too much room. And yes, that's a picture from last week. It's still morning here, we don't light the second candle until tonight.
PPS. The funny story about Son #1 and the Advent Fairy. For your entertainment.
Son #1 is nearly twelve years old now. We keep our children as innocent as possible, for as long as possible. A couple of years ago he started saying that other children in his class didn’t believe in Father Christmas, said it’s your parents who buy all the presents, etc. I always sidestepped the question by asking him what he thought, and he used to say he felt sorry for them that they didn’t believe. Good, I thought. My babe is still wee and innocent.
So. Last year, when he was nearly eleven, he asked me again. But this time he asked me in private, out of earshot of his younger brothers, when it was just us, and I knew he was ready and was, in fact asking for, the truth. So I took a deep breath, and told him all over again of the story of Saint Nicholas, the bishop from long ago who gave presents to the children. And I told him how ‘Santa Claus’ is a phonetic derivative of ‘Saint Nicholas’. I told him the truth about Father Christmas, that no, he is not real, but I explained that he is kind of keeping the spirit of Saint Nicholas alive.
His eyes teared up, but he took it well, and I was relieved and saddened at the same time. It felt like a huge milestone in his childhood.
The next day, he came to me during one of those mad evening moments, when you are trying to cook dinner, supervise two smaller children in the bath, answer the phone and clean the lunchboxes ready for the next day. And he said, "Mummy, you know how Father Christmas is keeping the spirit of Saint Nicholas alive? Well, what about the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny? What are they keeping the spirit alive? Um, of?"
And I carelessly said "What, them? Um, nothing. They’re not real, sweetheart. Are you two OUT OF THE BATH YET? Oh damn, the potatoes are burning!"
As he gulped and the tears welled, and I thought Oh shit, you bad, bad mother.
Two days later. He comes to me again. Shaky, voice trembling. "Mummy? Um. You know how Father Christmas and the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy aren’t real? (tiny voice)… What, um, what about … the Advent Fairy?"
I took one swift look at my babe. The babe who had grown up so very much in the last three days, and I realised in a nanosecond that he just couldn’t take any more.
And I said "Oh god, child! The Advent Fairy?! Of COURSE she’s real. LORD, yes!"
The relief on his face. Oh god, the sweet relief.
And I thought Thank heavens. I got it right. Ok. Good mother.