A few years ago, I woke up at 3 a.m. with a vision of an Advent wreath I had to make. This has happened a few times in my life, where an idea comes to mind that is crystal clear and urgent. We all know that phrase, “it dawned on me.”
Our daughter says that’s how God works – He dawns on us.
My 90-year old Dad was quietly lamenting that he and Mom would not have an Advent wreath that year, because they were now in an ALF. They can’t light candles, or have fire in their suite, and they have no room for a circled frame the size of dinner plate covered with live greenery, holding four candles.
The Advent wreath was a big deal in our house when I was growing up.
Dad, who loves gardening, always made our wreath from a wooden frame and evergreen and ribbons. In the greens, he tucked four new tapers and anchored them in the wood with wires. He usually poked a few holly berries in the wreath as well. We lit the appropriate candle every night at dinner and said a special prayer. I can still smell the fragrant evergreen and the melting candle wax.
The first year my folks were in the ALF, as Advent approached, candles were on sale after Mass. Dad wanted to know how much they were. Then, he wheeled on towards the car with our daughter. He didn’t know how he could have a wreath, but he was probably trying to work it out in his head.
The morning after my nighttime vision, I got up and made this.
I made it from a ring of cardboard and construction paper, four cardboard columns and some scrappy leaves.
I covered the columns in purple and pink paper and glued ovals of black Velcro to the wicks.
I glued matching Velcro pieces to the backs of four gold stars.
Then, I snipped leaves from three different shades of green and two shades of brown art foam. All scraps.
As the four weeks of Advent unfolded, Dad could stick a gold star to a candle to “light” it.
I punched a hole in the top of the wreath for hanging from a 3M Command hook.
The folks hung the wreath on their front door, so other residents and staff could see it. With a trembling hand, Dad practiced attaching a gold star to a candle wick. Easy as pinning the tail on the donkey.
He got a kick out of the wreath and told Mom, “Janey-baby, I hope we don’t lose the other stars.”
“I have them right here,” Mom assured him, tapping the snack baggie of stars on her sliding pile of paperwork.
I said to Dad, “Do you want to take off this star? Advent doesn’t start until Sunday.”
“No, let’s leave it,” he said. “I might forget to put it on Sunday. We’ll just start early.”
So, advent candlelight was sparkling early that year at Brookdale ALF in central Florida.
The wreath is back on their wall this year, with one gold star attached, as we are one week into Advent.
As I was making the wreath, I realized a “stick-on star light wreath” might be ideal for young children as well. It can be hung low enough on the wall for short arms to reach, and no real fire is involved. Children can help decorate the cardboard ring in any fashion they like.
For weathered, ailing hands, or chubby little fingers, this simple project keeps Advent tangible for all ages.
After Christmas, the wreath can be stored in a large mailing envelope for use next year.
God has some really good ideas, doesn’t He?