Sunday, 6 December 2015

Second Sunday of Advent

It’s the second Sunday of Advent and I’m working hard at trying to fight the Christmas rush, while realising that I’m not just imagining the pressure. Somehow we’ve ended up with an incredibly busy two weeks, after which point we’ll be leaving Vancouver (yay!) to head to the Island and David’s parents for Christmas. Do you have any idea how happy I am that I don’t have to work this Christmas? Do you know how hard it is to work on Christmas when it is not only one of the biggest holidays of the year but also one of the holiest days of the year for your religion? It was a double whammy of suckitude. Don’t get me wrong – the work that I do is important and I felt some solidarity with other professionals who provide “essential services” and have to work on the holidays because evils in this world don’t recognise holidays, but it was hard.

I digress.

The first thing on my radar for this past week was something that I hope will become a new and awesome Porter Family Advent Tradition. November 30th was the Feast of St Andrew and there is a beautiful Christmas novena attached to his feast day. Technically a novena is a 9 days prayer, whereas this Christmas Novena is supposed to be said 15 times a day between now and Christmas, but it’s a relatively simple way to change our daily prayers to reflect the season. In the Perfect World we would be rocking this Novena. In actual fact, I don’t have it memorised which makes it a lot harder to say 15 times a day. Work’s been crazy busy as the holiday season is the busiest time of year so even my plans of saying the prayer at my desk have been scuppered because I’m running around so much. But I’m saying it at least once a day, most of the time with the children, and that’s a good start. It really is a beautiful prayer:

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.

The next thing on my radar is the Feast of St Nikolas. St Nikolas, better known as Santa Claus, is a pretty hardcore 4th century saint who happens to be the patron saint of children and who, in popular traditions around the world, secretly gives gifts to them on his feast day (often leaving them in their shoes). Coming from an anti-Santa household, this has been a good way to reintroduce the tradition into my own family. I’m pro-Santa, by the way, but I like celebrating this feast as a way of introducing my children to the historical Santa. And this year it is awesome, because his feast day falls on a day which just happens to be the day we had already planned to go to Metrotown to get our pictures with Santa. I'm so pleased with this that I might just make it our normal Santa-photo day, assuming work schedules can jive with Santa schedules in the coming years.

Our very somber Santa photo. I'm pretty sure I'm the only one smiling. Both kids were on the verge of meltdowns so we were pulled into the picture and I guess paying donating for only one picture made us persona non grata because they hustled us in and out of there very quickly (unlike last year when we requested 2 photos and ended up with 4). 
I do like to keep the feast simple, so the kids are getting a chocolate Santa, a book, and their Christmas-Mass outfits. The adults will also get chocolate and will make merry once the children are in bed by toasting St Nikolas with a round of "Bishop's Helper" (spiced wine).

Walter's face! This was taken at the precise moment he learned that he couldn't open his present until we'd taken a photo AND he'd have to sit next to his sister. She's being wary because...punches. 

They're actually happy here, but Emily just plain refuses to smile for the camera.
This Sunday also happened to be the dedication of our cousin “Baby Avelynn”, so we trekked over to East Vancouver for the pre-dedication party. My cousins are fantastic hosts and the beer & appies kept coming, including a lovely sausage, cheese, & pickle platter that Tara had on hand as a nod to all things Ukrainian Canadian. It was wonderful to meet Paul's side of the family and to meet my cousins' closest friends.

If I am being cheeky I will tell you that a baby dedication is an Anabaptist response to infant Baptism, although that is not really accurate because there are too many theological differences to draw a true parallel. Suffice to say it is an opportunity for parents and their church community to dedicate their baby to God and to dedicate themselves to helping to raise the child in their faith. My brother and I were both dedicated when we were babies. As an aside, I remember my brother’s dedication being A Big Deal. My dad’s parents came all the way from Abbotsford (and I’m pretty sure that my Großmutter must have been ill with leukemia at the time) and I seem to remember mum being very excited over his blue velvet(?) romper and wandering around the house all misty-eyed and excited. My attitude was one of indifference and boredom...although in my defense I was only 6.5. Anyway, at the time it was impressed upon my brain that this is one of the Things We Do and then of course I converted to Catholicism and it became one of the Things We Don’t Do because we baptize our babies which, of course, as an Anabaptist was one of the Things We Definitely Don’t Do so the whole “what to do with my new baby and my religion” question really becomes quite a complex one for me.

All decked out for my Dedication in the family gown made by one of my aunts. 
That was this week’s busyness. So now we come to this week’s rest, a time to say the Advent prayer and to remind myself that with all the busy preparations for our Christmas celebrations there is time to rest, pray, and draw from the well of peace.

Lord, our God, we praise You for Your Son, Jesus Christ, for He is Emmanuel, the Hope of all people.
He is the Wisdom that teaches and guides us.
He is the Savior of us all.
O Lord,
let your blessing come upon us as we light the first and second (purple) candles of this wreath.
May the wreath and its light be a sign of Christ’s promise of salvation.
May He come quickly and not delay.
We ask this in His holy name. Amen.


  1. Interesting. I came from a "Santa" family and we don't do "Santa" with our kids. They know about St. Nicolas and we try to encourage them not to tell all their friends that Santa is dead ;). I do like the idea of opening gifts on the feast of St. Nicolas rather then on Christmas Day but for the sake of not seeming like the Christmas Kill Joy we have not enforced that tradition.

    1. We do gifts on St Nikolas feast AND Christmas Day, which helps spread everything out and lets me give the kids their Christmas clothing as gifts instead of just putting it into their closet. They love presents and I love saving money by gifting them things I was going to buy anyway :)

      Also, for all that I'm pro-Santa I don't think my kids really believe in Santa -- although we talk about fairies etc all the time I seem to have a harder time selling the Santa myth as I have no real conviction to it and don't go too far to make it into a thing. But we will leave out milk & cookies for Santa this year and one day I hope to teach them about the spirit of giving and sharing that allows us all to be Santa Claus to each other at Christmas, a la Little House on the Prairie!