The brightest, most blessed season of the year. My heart has been leaning into it for weeks, friends. But the miracle of the first dawning of Advent never ceases to catch me off guard–can it really have come again? The earliest tasks of the season always bear with them a certain tender awe. And always the sweetest amazement that He actually came…

Caspian lends his aid to the Advent Wreath

"...to do Him honor Who's our King, and Lord of all this reveling..."

Puck's already sporting his Christmas best

the Advent Wreath on Sunday afternoon, all anticipation

We fetched home our Christmas tree on Friday, after a jolly search (and I was so overcome with the rightness of the one we found I hugged it on the spot). I’m very particular about Christmas trees–and even more so once we get them home. We have as many traditions for the preparation as for the actual decorating. ๐Ÿ˜‰ But as my tree has to last and be lovely from the first Sunday in Advent right on through to the last waning moments of 12th Night, I can’t be too lavish with my care. For one, we never carry our tree on the top of our car–think of all that wind rushing over it and drying it out! (But I’ll spare you the details of the homeward journey, involving a tree trunk on the console of the Explorer and an eighty-pound dog in my lap! ;)) As soon as we get it home it receives a fresh cut and an instant immersion in what Philip calls my ‘tree brew’: a recipe that has miraculously guaranteed a fresh and fragrant tree throughout the duration of the season. It originally came from the Fermilab website and even though it’s a little extra trouble I absolutely swear by it. Here is the recipe, if anyone is interested:

Two cups Karo syrup
Two ounces liquid chlorine bleach
Two pinches Epsom salts
One-half teaspoon Borax
One teaspoon chelated iron
Hot water to fill two-gallon bucket

Fill a two-gallon bucket with hot water to within one inch of the top and add the remaining ingredients. Stir thoroughly, dissolving ingredients. Set aside.

With a saw, cut an inch off the bottom of the trunk of your recently purchased tree. Try to make a level cut.

Immediately stand the trunk of the tree in the solution and leave for 24 hours.

Keep the remaining solution. Place your tree in a tree stand that contains a well for liquid.

When the tree is in its final resting place, use a plastic cup to pour solution from the bucket into the tree well. Fill the well.

Every day without exception, โ€œtop upโ€ the well of the tree with the solution from the two-gallon bucket.

(Note 1: We cover the well of our tree stand with a screen of hardware cloth, just to keep any curious kitties from sampling the brew–I can’t think it would be good for them.)

(Note 2: While this recipe is indicated as a ‘fire-retardant’ on the Fermilab website, I am making no such claim-I am sharing it as a preservative and fragrance-enhancer only.)

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And so, welcome to Advent, dear ones. My prayer for you all is that it may be the sweetest and the holiest you have ever known.

p.s. Here is a fabulous Christmas piece that I thought you would all enjoy. It’s written by our dear and talented friend (and husband of my darling writing partner), Luke Boggs, for The Sunday Paper last year. Enjoy! ๐Ÿ™‚

A Passion for the Season

p.p.s. I just want to take this opportunity to make sure that you all know how very much the mere fact of your being here and reading these words means to me. And the words that you share in return absolutely overwhelm me. I assure you, though I may not be able to reply as extensively as I would like to, I read and cherish every single comment and kindness you have sent my way. I am humbled by your grace and your graciousness and I am inspired to press on by the way that you put me in courage with your words. And I do not exaggerate in the least when I say that you are the best part of this chronicled experience online.

Thank you, friends…