My Stupid, Blind-as-a-Bat Search for an Advent Wreath

I can’t explain my love for Advent and the Advent wreath. It’s an incredible time of anticipation and the slow-burning candles of the Advent wreath are the silent messengers commanding that I wait and savor the moment.

The candles say to me, “Enjoy this week. This week is an event in and of itself with meaning and significance. Don’t become so caught up in Christmas that you miss out on the GIFT of anticipating it and preparing for it.”

After leaving the Catholic church for the Baptist gang, I began to really miss the Advent wreath. It just wasn’t as prominent and meaningful as in the old Catholic days. Naturally when we began meeting in our home and basically found ourselves having to redefine church, the Advent wreath was sorely missed.

Two years ago I took action. I bought a cheap wreath and some even cheaper candles and carefully balanced the candles on the wreath to make a lame, super-duper lame that is, Advent wreath. It wasn’t much to look at, but it felt better than nothing.

This year we have a nice little home to decorate and have to buy a small tree that will sit on a strand in order to keep it away from the claws, paws, and jaws of our rabbits. This means that we need to beef up the other decorations. In particular, I’m talking about the Advent Wreath.

It was hard enough to find an Advent Wreath in the Philly metro area. How much more so in hippy/crunchy, Eastern-mystic, post-Christian, don’t-have-many-shopping-options Vermont. Finding an Advent wreath in Vermont seemed as likely as finding an optimistic Philadelphia sports fan.

I didn’t look very hard. I kind of ran an inventory of the stores in town through my mind and decided we were stuck. Maybe Miles Lumber, Manchester, VT’s local hardware store, would have them, but it’s highly unlikely. Besides, the people there don’t really talk to you. All of the men who work there always seem to be in a huddle drinking coffee, swearing with all kinds of profanity, and avoiding eye contact with the glassy-eyed customers who can’t find anything. It’s not really that bad all of the time, but it has happened.

Without even stopping at a local store in the area, I had thrown in the towel. The Wal-Mart in Troy, NY didn’t have Advent Wreaths. Who else would have one?

And then it finaly sunk in yesterday. I have long ignored the solution to my problem, and it’s right on the way home from work. It’s even on the right side of the road: a nice bonus.

I realized that every 4-5 days a week since August 2005 I have driven past a large store on the way home called “Christmas Days.” It’s one of the those places that sells Christmas stuff year-round and I typically avoid eye contact as if it’s a strip club on NJ’s Admiral Wilson Blvd.

I called. They had it. I stopped. I bought it. I brought it home to my jublilant wife. And that settles it.

I am very pleased to have our very own little advent wreath at home. I’m also happy that I supported the local economy. Christmas Days is donating an arrangement to the non-profit I work for. Not because of me of course, but it’s nice to help one another out. Not having to hear f-this and f-that made it quite pleasant as well.

There probably is a lesson somewhere in all of this like: all you’ll ever need is close to you. Or perhaps: don’t rule out the little guys. Or we could go Zen: don’t look for something, look at it. But we all know these cheap moralisms are just a lame way to wrap up a story that a writer is too unskilled to finish with art and pizzaz. They’re also infuriating lies for the most part . . . You need to go far away for things you need, diversity and ethnic food come to mind in Vermont, the big guys usually win, and if I wasn’t looking for something how would I know I was looking at it???

So I won’t ponder these wanna-be lessons. I’ll be home anticipating Christmas, lighting candles, and enjoying each week during this holy season. Week one begins with repentance.