When I think of the time of Christmas in my childhood, I remember a sense of awe, mystery and sacredness. It was just there, for the six weeks weeks leading up to Christmas. The days were short, the nights were long. Winter was on it’s way, trees were bare and the ground frozen. It was getting cold, we wore the thick winter coats, went skating and waited feverishly for the first snow.
It was the time of flickering lights in the window, shadows on the wall, pieces of angel hair and tinsel, the scent of frankincense and cinnamon. Plates of dates, apples, oranges and ginger bread. Christmas carols, advent calendars and whispered secrets.
And I felt enshrouded in all this sacredness. Today I recognise advent as a time to open the heart. This is what Christmas really is about – giving and receiving, with an open heart and the breathless silence of being in stillness and complete awe of the unfolding mystery.