Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Advent by Candlelight and the Great St. Nicholas Day Debate

Celtic Advent wreath
Last evening our church (All Saints in St. Peters) hosted its eleventh annual Advent by Candlelight celebration for the women in our parish--and beyond our parish borders.

Advent is a time of anticipation and wonder. The Advent by Candlelight celebration is an evening of quiet reflection, prayers, music, and inspiration--along with the sharing of food and friendship.

In years past, our table has been filled with people I know; it's been a delightful and comfortable evening. This year was a bit different. A few women from our Bunco group (that's been going strong for 43 years) weren't able to attend, so we had empty spots at our table. What made the evening special was I met Diana and Mindy, two women who belong to our parish I'd never met before who sat with our group.

We all shared food and drink and stories and recipes. I brought chicken salad sandwiches on croissants and some port wine cheese. Cheryl brought raspberry moscato wine and a beef ball and crackers. My sister Kathleen provided all the table wear, and her rumchata pudding shots were a big hit. Everyone asked for her recipe! Geri brought dessert and some sweets to take home. Diana provided fruit salad with whipped cream topping. Mindy served cheese and salami and crackers. The menu was unplanned, but it all worked!

In between eating. listening to songs and music, and prayerful reflection, I spoke with Diana, a retired nurse who sat next to me. She had some wonderful stories to share, including one about how she and her husband met and how they love putting puzzles together and how the puzzles became so special to them and their marriage. She also told me about her miracle baby son, who is now in his early 30s. She also shared a few sad stories. Her eyes glistened with tears, so I listened and patted her hand. 

Everyone at our table also discussed St. Nicholas Day. Mindy asked what she should tell her daughter about when to put out her granddaughter's shoes. We talked about the origin of St. Nicholas Day and why we put out the shoes, but the great St. Nicholas debate continues.

Do you put out your shoes on December fifth so St. Nicholas can fill them up for the sixth, which is St. Nicholas Day? Or, do you put them out the night of December sixth because that's the actual day?

"Santa Wore Cowboy Boots"
Toward the end of the night a woman walked up and introduced herself. She asked if I was Donna Volkenannt, the writer, which surprised me. She told me she had heard me speak at a writing event several years ago and had read one of my stories and it inspired her.

It was a Christmas story called "Santa Wore Cowboy Boots" that I wrote about 15 years ago for a Cup of Comfort book. That story dealt with my depression about being homesick at Christmas time while living in Arizona so far away from my family and how my mood affected my children, especially my son, who that year taught me the true meaning of Christmas.

The woman had an unusual last name so I asked her if she was related to a man I used to work with before I was married, who happens to be her husband's uncle. Turns out it's a small and wonderful world, and we never know what to expect.

So, while the question lingers on when to put your children's or grandchildren's shoes out for St. Nicholas Day, the Advent season remains a special time -- of reflection and expectation and delight at our wonderful world.

16 comments:

  1. Donna, it sounds like you had a lovely time. Isn't it a great feeling when you actually connect with a stranger?

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    1. Hi Linda,
      Yes, it is a great feeling connecting with a stranger.

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  2. A small world indeed! You have connections.

    I have never celebrated St. Nicholas Day, but if I did, I would put out the shoes on Dec. 5th, which would be St. Nicholas Eve.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, it is a small world indeed. And I agree with you about St. Nicholas Day.

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  3. A Bunco group that's bee going strong for 43 years? I assume you have not been in it that long?

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    1. My sister started the group while I was living out of state. I became a sub in 1975, then a regular about a year later until I moved out of state, but since 1986 I have been a regular. It's a dedicated group.

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  4. Thank you, Donna, for sharing a slice of your life that warms the heart and uplifts the soul this Christmas time. I love the way we make connections to others in unexpected places.

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    1. Hi Clara,
      I agree. It is heartwarming to connect with others, especially this time of year.

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  5. How wonderful to have this tradition for your group, and to see it expand on some occasion. And what a joy to connect with one of your readers! It makes the writing worthwhile.

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    1. Hi Marcia,
      It was a peaceful and inspiring evening meant to be shared.

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  6. Such a sweet story, and such interesting people you were able to meet.

    And by the way, I've been thinking about the St. Nicholas question. I figure it's just like Christmas Eve. Gifts are received on Christmas Day. Therefore, put out the shoes on St. Nicholas Eve to be received on St. Nicholas Day! Problem resolved.

    Pat
    www.patwahler.com

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    1. Hi Pat,
      I agree. When the kiddos were younger we would put their shoes out on the 5th and when they told their friends at school St. Nicholas came, some of their friends felt left out because St. Nick came the following evening.

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  7. Oh Donna, had to chuckle over your hubby turning off the wreath music. When I bought the outdoor porch rug that lights up and plays music, my hubs said the music was "annoying." (Bah, humbug.) I step on it and laugh because I LOVE it! ha! Nice post today, too, Donna. Thanks so much for your visits. Susan

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    1. Hi Susan,
      I love the idea of an outdoor porch rug that lights up and plays music.
      Thanks for your visits. I always enjoy your posts and comments.

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  8. It is indeed a small world. The older I get, the more I've learned that simple truth. It's always interesting to see how things come about in that respect. Have a wonderful week! :)

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  9. Thanks for another great blog post, Donna! I've met some very nice people lately due to seating charts, etc., and just love it when former strangers become friends! Hope you have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and your family is well!

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