Growing up, we had an Advent wreath every year.
We would make it together as a family, in our church basement or the parish hall, the last Sunday before Advent. I loved the day we got to make the wreath. It seemed like we were getting bonus Christmas time before Christmas or even Advent had begun. (I also loved it when our rector would have us "rehearse" a few Christmas Carols--as though anyone could forget how those went--during announcements, randomly, in November. Who knows why he did that, but I always thought it was fun.)
Making the wreath was sometimes hasty, if, say, we had somewhere to be after church. But I remember our family was usually happy-go-lucky about the wreath-making, grinning a bit conspiratorially when there was concern amongst some other parishioners that there might not be enough greens or ribbons or candles to go around. There were those who stressed out about the supplies every year, but it always worked out beautifully for everyone, even the stressers.
I absolutely loved having the wreath on our kitchen table all season long. It sat nestled in a collar of tinfoil so that when we watered it, it wouldn't leak all over the table. We never tried to make it more elegant than that, and I loved that about it, too.
We certainly lit the Advent wreath every Sunday at dinnertime, but sometimes we would light it during the week, too. Suddenly, a midweek meal was magical.
As an adult, I've never had a wreath for my own table. Not as a single gal, and never for my family. So I'm sure you can imagine how thrilled I was when our church said it would have wreath-making after church the last Sunday before Advent. (Same day as the birds.)
It wasn't exactly what I was expecting. There was no green florist foam ring (the consistency of which I never could resist. Don't you just want to wet it down and press your fingers into it? No? I always did.). There was no greenery. There was just a white styrofoam-ish ring and a box of perfect candles. We were to take it home and make it ourselves.
The crafty wheels started turning. Four dollars worth of greens from Kroger. Judicious use of the glue gun (which I've had since I was a teenager; I went through a phase of making puffy, fabric-covered picture frames). Tradition restored.
Now the wreath is on our kitchen table, and we light it every Sunday. Sometimes, if the kids haven't been too whiny, we light it for a random weeknight dinner, too.
Jillson is delighted by the purple. She has informed me that purple is the color of royalty and that purple and rose (not pink) are the true colors of Christmas. Madelyn just keeps wondering when, when, when we can light the pink candle. She considers the pink one hers.
Jillson is concerned at the rate of burn, worried that the first candle will always be lower than the other ones. She believes this is not fair to the poor, first candle. She wants to burn candles two through four down so that they are all even. Strangely, I recall similar concerns as a kid, along with concerns that, as the candles got lower, their flames became dangerously close to the greens. I remember several instances in which our greens actually did catch fire, however briefly, when I was a girl. (I wonder what my parents did... can't remember... did they douse it with a drink? Pretty sure that's what we'll do if it happens here.)
I am content. There is something about having this wreath back in my life that just feels right. And I'll certainly have to remember to make more of an effort to keep this tradition alive in years to come.