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the advent begins

1. The Chrismas Tree

The Christmas tree was picked, trimmed (I actually trimmed lots of branches to make her look like a Silver Tip Fir, but she wasn’t having it), and decorated. We didn’t go to the usual tree farm this year but opted for a tree from a local nursery. They had all of the trees named. Among the many trees beautifully displayed was George, Wink, Luke, Prancer and ours, Belinda. Trees being named was quite possibly the cutest thing that could have happened. The girls had so much fun running around trying to find just the right name. After we brought Belinda in, the house was immediately filled with that wonderful fir scent of Christmas. We decorated her to the best of our abilities (see missing lights at top right) and now she looks festive and ready to take on the season. And tomorrow is the first day of the advent! Which…has become my most favorite time of the year!



2. The Advent

Another Advent season is upon us. And yeah, we can get so wrapped up in choosing just the right tree or just the right gifts that the meaning of it all dissipates along with our energy. I grew up with a simple Christmas. Nothing to open before, nothing to expect, just twinkling lights and the innate joy of the season, well, and wishing for a gift or two. Somehow, after I had kids, the advent became, by my own two hands, oh so complicated. We can go all advent worrying about what the neighbor’s Elf on the Shelf is doing or what Pinterest worthy project we will put together. And we can forget, we can forget all about the miracle birth, THE reason we celebrate CHRISTmas. Some time ago American cartoonist James Thurber said, There are two kinds of light, the glow that illuminates and the glare that obscures. Not all lights are made the same. And complicated light looks a lot like glare. The kind of glare that steals joy.

I’ve been trying very hard to quit perfectionism. It isn’t easy. No, it isn’t. So last year I was in search of glow. I wanted a simplified advent, an activity not just for activities sake, but something meaningful and stress-less. Not a joy thief. So I made the executive decision to unplug from electronics, light a candle, turn off the lights, serve dinner, and open the scriptures (along with Ann Voskamp’s book Unwrapping the Greatest Gift) for some family reading time. To be honest, I had no idea how this would all pan out. The first night we ate with one candle, it was dark, but I noticed we lingered a little longer around the dinner table. No one rushed away to some other activity. By day 24 we had more than enough beautiful light, a candle for each day preceding Christmas, and a family who could not bear to turn on artificial lights and resume modern life. Glow! Another curious and studied phenomenon, the lack of artificial light before bedtime made us all feel sleepy earlier. Double glow! In all, it was such a simple way to enjoy time together and reflect on Jesus’ birth. And this year, by popular vote, we are doing it again.

If you are looking to start a meaningful tradition, this might be the one for you! Light a candle and feel the warmth of the season. Don’t get all be caught up in details, home cooked food, take-out, dessert only, anything goes so long as it is shared by candle light. Glow not glare. Happy Advent friends!

Resources: Join Nova Natural Mailing list and get $7 off.

16-hole birthday ring (what we use for advent as well as birthdays). We use the ring plus other individual candles.

Brass candle holders.

Small beeswax tapers

other beeswax candles are made by me or from Wholefoods.


  • December 1, 2015 - 4:03 am

    Annelies - How I enjoy your writing and all those beautiful photographs, Nathalie!ReplyCancel

    • December 1, 2015 - 5:01 am

      nathaliebearden - Thank You my sweet friend!!! Happy Advent!!!ReplyCancel

  • December 9, 2015 - 4:37 pm

    Liz - I came across your Instagram feed & blog after seeing you on Wild & Free. I am so impressed with your posts, images & the care you take in your family & life. (Of course I know posts are only a blip from your real life – I know it’s not always perfect, but what you do share is beautiful & thought provoking).
    This is our first year using Ann Voskamp’s book, & I love it. The conversations & thoughts that it invokes are such a joy in our home. I want so desperately to get back to what Christmas is truly about. The next step is buying an advent wreath & candles. I love the idea of all lights off & just basking in the glow. Thank you for sharing.ReplyCancel

    • December 11, 2015 - 2:47 pm

      nathaliebearden - Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment, Liz. I am so glad you found my little journal. Yes, this is filled with the good parts. There are plenty of no so good parts too. But these pretty scenes are the ones I want to commit to memory…even though, the ugly stuff is where the growth really happens. But who wants to remember them, right? We used Ann’s book last year and we are using it again this year. It has been a blessing to us. December can be so busy with busy things that we, most of the time unknowingly, let the busyness run the show. But this quiet time, for us, is where we have found the spirit of the season. I wish you a wonderful advent season and plenty of opportunities to grow with your family. Hugs to you!ReplyCancel

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