ACW

ACW

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Reversing into Advent


To my mind, one of the most important questions on any conference booking form is the one about any special dietary requirements. I confess that my instinctive answer is always: Yes, food – and lots of it! When I was growing up, my dad, my brother and I used to have heated debates about who got to eat the most roast potatoes at Sunday lunch. Which is probably why, 30 years and three children later, I’m no longer as slim as I used to be.



Calories? What calories?
However, for the past couple of years or so, I’ve been trying to think more carefully about what I eat. (Apart from when we went to Brittany this summer, where the lure of cheese, crêpes and French cider was too much for my feeble will power.) So, I’ve felt rather exasperated for the past few weeks as our local supermarket has insisted on stacking huge tins of chocolates right by the entrance.



This week, when I went in, the confectionery goodies had been moved. Hurrah! In their place were rows and rows of Advent calendars…or, to put it more accurately, boxes and boxes of Advent calendars. These days, having a double-thickness piece of card with a traditional nativity scene and little doors which open to reveal pictures of baubles, tinsel and grumpy-looking camels is apparently not enough. My local supermarket is now selling beer Advent calendars. (I really hope that’s not aimed at people who like to open their calendars first thing in the morning.)



And it’s not just beer that’s on offer: an article I read recently mentioned Advent calendars full of beauty products, a selection of cheeses and – if you have ten grand to spare – one containing 24 limited edition whiskies. Advent calendars are no longer aimed primarily at children, but are targeted at adults with plenty of disposable income and a desire to treat themselves in the run-up to Christmas.



For some years, December 25th has become synonymous in many people’s minds with excessive spending, extravagant gifts and over-eating; and now the Advent season is getting the same treatment. It’s a far cry from the simplicity – not to mention poverty – of Jesus’ birth. So, this year, I’m challenging myself to do something positive to counteract the over-indulgence of the season.



We're going to need a bigger box...
There’s a concept called the Reverse Advent Calendar which has been growing in popularity over the past couple of years. On the first of December, you start with an empty cardboard box. Then, for every day up to the 24th, you add a useful item, such as a tin of beans or a bottle of shampoo. By the time Christmas arrives, you should have a box full of practical goodies which can then be donated to a foodbank or local charity.



If the idea of a reverse Advent calendar doesn’t appeal, you could try the Bible Society’s AdventChallenge, which offers suggestions each day for ways to bless others (similar to the 40 Acts challenge run by Stewardship in Lent). There are also numerous Advent devotionals available – I’m planning to re-read Tanya Marlow’s Those Who Wait. And as writers, maybe we could look for ways in which to use our words to encourage others during the Advent period.



So, what about you? I’d love to hear if you have any thoughts about alternative ways to celebrate Advent this year.


Fiona Lloyd works part-time as a music teacher, and serves on the worship leading team at her local church. Fiona blogs at www.fjlloyd.wordpress.com and at http://thejesusonthebus.blogspot.co.uk. You can find her on Twitter at @FionaJLloyd. Her first novel, The Diary of a (trying to be holy) Mum, will be published by Instant Apostle in January 2018. Fiona is vice-chair of ACW and is married with three grown-up children.


12 comments:

  1. Great post and even better idea. I’m going to do that this year

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    1. Go for it, Wendy! My OH has connections with a children's charity in Leeds, and I think they take gifts collected this way, so hopefully, that's where ours will be going.

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  2. A great idea 🙂 The whole self-indulgence thing frightens me. So hard to resist though and this is one way of doing that...

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    1. I really do like Christmas (including pressies), but I find the mounting pressure to do more and buy more quite nauseating! I like this idea because it reminds me of the value of being content with what I have, and encourages me to look beyond myself. I like World Vision (and other organisations) gifts for similar reasons.

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    2. Great blog - it's so important not to get swept up in it all. I always do the Bible Society advent challenge and last year did it with my class at school (not a church school). The children loved it and really made a lot of people happy doing the challenges. Sometimes a simple 'thank you' shines a great light in a world where some people are not valued by those around them.

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    3. What a lovely idea, to do it with your class! Thanks for reading and commenting.

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  3. I used to love Christmas - now I find its public manifestation horrible ... and these 'Advent calendars' are a mockery, to be honest. I hope to write my blogpost on the subject, so I'll finish my comment here for now.

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    1. Ooh, intriguing! I'll look forward to reading your post.

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