A Catholic Monthly Magazine

An Angel at Advent

by Philippa Winch
by Philippa Winch

As a child, Christmas was a big occasion involving family, food and lots of festivities. However, as an adult with a family of my own neither my husband nor I had any close relatives living near. It was up to us to create our own family Christmas traditions.
To make Christmas just as exciting, would take careful planning! The first year my children were old enough to understand about Christmas, I got under way.

The Lead-up to ChristmasChristmas Angel

Beginning with the first of December, I carefully prepared a little package for the children to receive daily. The package contained a piece of candy for each child, a mission they needed to complete that day and a few household items that allowed them to be able to achieve this.

There was the day that my three boys made Christmas cookies. They had just as much fun distributing these cellophane wrapped goodies to the residents of a local rest home, as they did making them.christmas pudding with custard

There was a day when my children ripped off the wrapping paper to find there was nothing in the box. It was a valuable lesson in reminding them that there are people in the world who are too poor to celebrate Christmas.
Of course there were the other days as well when the boys got to pay a visit to Santa or purchase one Christmas ornament each they could add to their collection on the tree.
As for Christmas day itself – the popular television series The Amazing Race had provided us with the inspiration we were after…

The Amazing Christmas Race

My first mission was to plan the day. Clues were placed in envelopes that I would keep with me on this adventure; they would magically appear when the time was right. Clues were also taped on the back of presents as well which were carefully distributed in the right order to people who we would call on. The rest of the presents would act as prizes for various competitive activities the family would be involved in. With everything arranged, we were ready to go!

Christmas day dawned bright and early with the opening of the children’s stockings. At the bottom of each was the first clue. They were to wrap up fourteen Christmas puddings and distribute them to everyone who lived in our street … The race had begun!
What followed was a day of fun and festivities: we attended church; had a picnic brunch at the local park; blew up balloon Santa’s and shaved their foaming cream beard off with a popsicle stick; played pin the nose on Rudolph; made a shoebox manger for the nativity scene; painted the windows; made phone-calls to family members living further away and visited people who had touched our lives throughout the year.

We even managed to do a bit of Christmas window shopping on the way! Armed with clues as to Christmas things the boys had to find, we set about walking the main street of our town looking for 7 angels, 5 elves, 10 Father Christmas’, holly, tinsel…and the list went on. With the street being almost deserted after the hub –bub of Christmas shoppers, it was an opportunity to enjoy the window displays that had been created to celebrate this festive season.

The day passed quickly and by the end of it we were all tired. However, my five year old son described things perfectly when he announced, “Today has been the best day ever!” Sure it had taken plenty of time and effort in the preparation of the day but it had created memories that would far exceed the time that went into making this a Christmas well worth remembering.
The following year, the boys had just as much fun coming up with their own creative ideas that they would like to see happen on the day as they decided to do the Amazing Christmas Race all over again.
Years later they still talk about the various things we did on these Christmas adventures. It was an event that made the magic of Christmas come alive; sprinkled a little Christmas cheer and left a whole lot of Christmas spirit in everyone’s hearts.

The ‘Christmas Angel’

It also gave birth to our own Christmas tradition - a tradition that sees the ‘Christmas Angel’ visit during the time of Advent every year providing the boys with a daily mission in preparation for Christmas.

I’m sure other people have been somewhat surprised when over the years the boys have informed them that an angel visits our house during Advent. It may not have surprised the boys as much that this ‘angel’ is very ordinary and not in the least like the angels mentioned in the Bible. However seeing that it was an angel in the first place that visited Mary giving her the mission of bringing forth life in the form of Jesus, the Son of God and it was a sky full of angels that brought forth the good news that Jesus, our Saviour had been born – perhaps it is only appropriate that an ‘angel’ visits our house as well bringing a mission each day to help the boys prepare for Christmas.

In Psalm 91:11 we read, “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” As a mother I can rest assured that God has given to each of us a guardian angel to watch over us, to guide and protect. Although one day the boys will have outgrown visits from the ‘Christmas Angel’ in preparing them for Christmas, it is reassuring to know that their guardian angels will still be there to protect and guide them for the mission God has for them in life. Until then the ‘Christmas Angel’ will continue to visit, sharing the joy and good news that is the reason for this season.

Church of Our Lady and the English Martyrs  Cambridge England

Church of Our Lady and the English Martyrs Cambridge England

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