Tonight we give thanks for the animal kingdom. The children will each place a small animal on the nature table/nativity scene. One year a giraffe was chosen, but as the children have got older they’ve got the gist of what’s expected. (I do like that scene in Love Actually where Emma Thompson’s daughter announces she has the part of the lobster at the nativity play and when her mother asks if shellfish were present at the birth of the baby Jesus, she rolls her eyes and says Well duh, Mum).
We will light the third candle and say the verse,
The third light of Advent,
it is the light of beasts.
The light of hope that we may see
In greatest and in least.
Each year someone asks in the comments whether I made up these Advent verses.
No I didn’t. Our Advent tradition is Waldorf/Steiner inspired, with one or two touches that we have adapted for our family. The verses were found several years ago on a website which now seems to have disappeared. It was called QuolKids (Quality of Life for Kids) and one of the two women who maintained the site was a Steiner teacher.
I find that celebrating Advent this way has helped to counteract the awful, omnipresent, consumerist nature of Christmas, helping our children (and us!) remember the spiritual nature of this season. I also like the way it honours nature and the universe.
Our boys run to check out the nativity scene every morning (ok, maybe not the thirteen year old these days) to see if anything has appeared, and in the final week when Joseph and Mary appear and move a little closer to the stable each day the sense of anticipation builds and builds. I’m delighted that most Christmas mornings they check out whether the baby Jesus has materialised in his
And then just when you think it’s all over, a few days later the three wise men show up (too late to be of use during the birth and rather bizarrely bearing weird gifts of incense and myrrh rather than casseroles or a voucher for a month of nappy delivery) and you get a bit more bang for your buck.