holiday home tour

my dear friend Mama Urchin is hosting a holiday home tour and asked me to play along.  Because I have a teensy house (well, the part that is heated with radiators, my best friend during the cold months is about 1200 sq ft), I try to keep things simple.  And as a person of faith, I want to focus on the holy more than the glitz. 
The Episcopal church (and many other liturgically-based churches) "celebrates" Advent - the four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas- before the great Celebration of Christmas.  Advent is a time of preparation and seeking the light in darkness (in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Isaiah 9:2- "the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light"- is the basis for much of our work during these four weeks), so light plays an important role in how my family celebrates advent.
I'll start with the bottom right photo, as it is all about Advent.  The first Sunday of Advent we make a wreath at St. Mary's Cathedral.  It's an all-ages event.  I missed it this year, but my boys brought one home.  Some churches use purple for Advent, some use blue.  We've recently switched to blue, which I'm happy about because, well, I'm not a fan of purple.  The pink candle, which we lit this week, is for Mary.  The next photo is a fun one- our advent calendar is based on the free bird pattern offered by Spool.  From the Sunday after Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve, we add a new bird.  Originally I only made 24 birds -this year I need to make a few more.  I used wool and cashmere sweaters -either purchased at a thrift store or moth-eaten ones from my house- to make these sweet little birds. 
Next to the birds, this stationary wooden creche is one of my favorite holiday decorations.  The priest who was my campus minister came down to Mississippi to perform my wedding- he's done the same for several women I graduated with.  The summer I was pregnant, he traveled to Israel and sent this olive-wood creche as a baby gift when my son was born right before Thanksgiving.  When he grows up and has his own family, I'll pass it along to him, but it is very meaningful to me.
The star on our tree is a Moravian Star.  In Moravian households (and in Germany, PA, and Winston-Salem, NC, this star hangs outside, lighted, from the beginning of Advent until the beginning of Epiphany.  It represents the star of Bethlehem- that great light.  My college, Salem, was founded by Moravians, so this is a special symbol for me.  For many years I had a white star that we hung on the porch, but it died last year.  This paper one from an imports store will do for now, but I plan to replace it soon.

Later this week I'll delve more into our Christmas decorations- the tree is up and lit and I am slowly adding wreathes to the windows and other festive bits around the house.  But for now, I'm taking it slowly and anticipating the great light to come.  Be well.