Nice Things, and Why We Can’t Have Them

Sunday was the first night of Advent, and I decided that THIS year, our family was going to light our Advent candle and say our Advent candle prayer every. single. night.

This laudable resolution was challenged from the get go. First, I only had white candles. The proper purple and pink candles were nowhere to be found. But that didn’t matter; what was important was that we would light those candles and say our prayer together, as a family.

So I set our white candles up in the lovely Celtic-knot advent wreath I inherited from my grandmother. They didn’t fit in the holders, and I didn’t have time to rig them up with paper towels, so they leaned awkwardly in four different directions. Still, no matter. It was dinner time and we were doing this Advent thing, candles be damned. I mean darned.

All four of us gathered at the table. The lights were low; the single candle was lit. It was a solemn scene, which lasted approximately 15 seconds. Then, my two year old, Norah, started singing Happy Birthday and blew the candle out.

But I was determined not to let my plans be derailed by a toddler. I moved the wreath out of her reach, re-lit the candle, and said the first line of our prayer:

“O God, as light comes from this candle…”

While my five-year-old, Michele, sweetly repeated after me, Norah shot out her Go- Go-Gadget arms and yanked the wreath toward her. She blew out the candle, grabbed the two candles closest to her, and started drumming.

Teeth clenched, I removed the priceless heirloom to the top of the fridge and confiscated the candles. But still, I persevered. With or without candles, we were DOING. THIS. THING.

I moved onto the second line of the prayer.

“May the blessing — ”

“MOMMY! No!” Now it was Michele’s turn. “You can’t say the next line. My FLOWER didn’t get a chance to say the FIRST line.”

And so, in a tiny, screechy voice, the sparkly flower that had fallen off of a Christmas decoration said her part of the prayer. We moved through the next two lines, slowly, as each was repeated three times, but steadily. Norah was quiet. Too quiet.

As the little flower was squeaking out her repetition of the fourth and final line, Norah could contain herself no longer.

“PooPooPeePee! Butt! Snot! Boogers!” She shouted out her entire potty vocabulary. My husband started man-giggling, laughing harder and louder the more he tried to contain it. Michele didn’t even try to hold back her laughter, and, playing to her audience, Norah repeated her repertoire, adding in animal sounds and random words.

“Moo! Baa! Hair! Nose! Shirt! BUTT!”

I know when I am defeated. But I finished my prayer anyway. Because even though we can’t have nice things, I can still pretend.

+++

O God, as light comes from this candle,
May the blessing of Jesus Christ come to us,
Warming our hearts and brightening our way.
May Christ our Savior bring life into the darkness of this world,
And to us, as we wait for his coming.

 

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