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When our sons were young, we put up the tree each Thanksgiving weekend, hanging the flotsam and jetsam of our growing history. It wasn’t gorgeous, but it was ours, and it satisficed.

Now that we are empty nesters and without their youthful Thanksgiving enthusiasm, I’m a reluctant Christmas decorator. Last year, knowing we would be gone over the holidays, I left the Christmas boxes untouched in our cement-walled storage room.

This Thanksgiving weekend, those boxes stayed unopened again. The project loomed too large. Besides, didn’t the Advent purists say the proper way to decorate for Christmas was to wait until December 24?

I have coped by reminding myself that I am one step closer to the equinox.

Of course, by then I would probably conclude it was too late and not worth doing.

First Sunday in Advent, our sanctuary welcomed us with Advent candles stepped earthward one-by-one toward the Christ candle, which was surrounded by a crown of thorns and a single rose.

Advent was a time of waiting and longing, our pastor said.

Oh, yes. A time of waiting – a countdown until the hours of sun begin to lengthen and my mood, darkened by seasonal affective disorder, will lighten with the longer days. A time of longing – longing for people to just get along, for peace instead of arguments about a war on Christmas, complete with prickly articles about Consumeristmas and mushy ones about the joy of baking and children and Christmases past.

A time of longing and waiting, he said – for the first and second comings of Jesus.

Longing for the coming.

Longing for the light.

Each time I have hungered for more light in the shortening days, I have coped by reminding myself that I am one step closer to the equinox.

When some children wait for Christmas, they put just one sticker per day on their Advent calendars. Perhaps I could unbox just one item from the storage shelves – perhaps that manger scene from Israel.

But that olive-wood crèche was not in the first three boxes I peered into. I opted instead for the prelit, miniature tree. I found a home for it on the sun porch.

Today I searched the boxes again. No olive wood yet, but I did find the manger cave from Nicaragua, with hand-carved animals and Holy Family. The coffee table provided a resting place.

Hmm …

I wonder what I’ll find tomorrow. I’ll have to wait and see.

Carol Van Klompenburg is a writer living in Pella, Iowa. She blogs periodically at

Image: “Tea Lights,” by condesign/Pixabay, under CCO 1.0 Universal License.